As you may know, Congress is meeting this week and may finalize the federal budget for the current fiscal year. There is a lot of pressure for Congress to GREATLY reduce overall spending, and we need to make SURE that people experiencing homelessness do not suffer more as a result.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness is calling for families, shelter workers, advocates, and others to urge Congress to protect funding for homelessness programs, and Homes for Families is focusing on funding for the McKinney-Vento program and the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration Project.
Here is what you can do:
- Call your representative(s) and Senator Kerry and Brown.
- Explain the importance of housing to address the family homelessness crisis in MA and ask that the Rep./Senator prioritize $2.2 billion for McKinney-Vento programs and $85 million for the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration (see more information and suggested talking points below).
- Ask the staff member if his/her boss will contact the Appropriations Committee in support of including these funding levels in the final FY 2011 spending bill, no matter what format it takes.
The phone numbers for our Senators are:
Senator Kerry: (202) 224-2742
Senator Brown: (202) 224-4543
To find your Representative in Congress go to wheredoivotema.com, type in your address and look for “Congressional.” Then find their phone number below:
Congressman Olver: (202) 225-5335
Congressman Neal: (202) 225-5601
Congressman McGovern: (202) 225-6101
Congressman Frank: (202) 225-5931
Congresswoman Tsongas: (202) 225-3411
Congressman Tierney: (202) 225-8020
Congressman Markey: (202) 225-2836
Congressman Capuano: (202) 225-5111
Congressman Lynch: (202) 225-8273
Congressman Delahunt: (202) 225-3111
See Below for more details and talking points:
The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act changes the way that funds from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are proportioned and increases funding for certain activities, particularly homelessness prevention and assistance to families and rural areas.
The Senate Appropriations Committee proposed providing $2.055 billion – a 10 percent increase over FY 2010. The House, however, proposed an 18 percent increase to $2.2 billion. Without a funding level of at least $2.2 billion, communities may receive less funding for new Continuum of Care (CoC) projects or may not be able to implement as many of the HEARTH Act’s changes, particularly those that help prevent homelessness and rapidly re-house individuals and families who do become homeless. While $2.4 billion is needed to fully implement the HEARTH Act in FY 2011, a funding level of $2.2 billion will help communities make further progress in implementing this important legislation and in reaching our goal of ending homelessness in the United States.
Talking Points: Discuss the way in which your community currently uses McKinney-Vento funds and what you could do with additional resources. Discuss your community’s prevention and rapid re-housing efforts through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).
Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration
Both the House and Senate have proposed funding a new joint initiative between HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would couple 6,000 Housing Choice Vouchers for families with resources under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and Department of Education resources, as well as coupling 4,000 Housing Choice Vouchers for chronically homeless individuals with Medicaid, substance abuse, and mental health resources.
Talking Points: Discuss the success your community has had in the past with serving chronically homeless individuals by coupling housing and services to improve outcomes and reduce costs to other systems of care. Explain how TANF resources and Housing Choice Vouchers can help serve vulnerable families in your community.