We will post more about what went down in the House Budget debates this week. In the meantime, the short of it- the House Budget is short on what is needed to address family homelessness. The funding in MRVP is too short to make in impact on rehousing efforts and the time limit to HomeBASE remains shortened, shorter than promised, and too short to expect most households to drastically change their economic situation to afford the high cost of rent.
We were surprised and disheartened not to see the HomeBASE amendment get passed. The amendment contained critical language to protect families in HomeBASE from becoming homeless again. We had key legislators sponsoring the amendment; data backing up the need; agreement on some parts of it from DHCD; a unified voice from the advocacy community; and compelling and logical arguments. But it was not enough. Politics can be brutal.
As I sat processing the defeat, I received the following message from a family:
So I want to ask a question, you might think I’m dumb for this, but things have not been too clear for me. I’m currently on Homebase; my lease is up in August and I’m due to give birth in July. I am currently married and was able to keep a job until I got really sick. They are telling me pretty much I’ll be on the street with a 1 month old, and have been paying rent on time on the first every month. Is it true there is no money left for Homebase? Are we looking at people with Homebase to be homeless again?
The message is making the sting of defeat hurt a little more. But the fight for this expecting mother is not over. We need the Senate to understand that there are over 5,000 households with the same questions, the same self doubts and the same fears. We need every family, every provider, every landlord and every advocate to work together to help assure that this mother is not on the streets with her 1 month old.
I do not want to make light of the situation, but the issue needs to be simplified and sometimes the best way is through song and a message that everyone can understand. Apparently some people don’t get the fact that, the rent is too damn high. Maybe this will help clear it up so we can move toward solutions and maybe it will just help with the sting: