Policymakers Line Up in Support of Federal Homeless Programs

In an indication that Congressional support is as strong as ever for federal programs that prevent and end homelessness, dozens of Congressmen and Senators signed on to “Dear Colleague” letters urging Appropriators to provide strong funding for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program and the HUD-VA supportive housing (HUD-VASH) program for homeless veterans.  Legislators also demonstrated strong support for the HOME program, which plays a very important role in providing gap funding for affordable housing developments as they gather various permanent forms of financing.

An exceptional number of these funding letters were circulating on Capitol Hill during the past few weeks prompting policymakers to make difficult decisions about which programs to lend their support to.  Advocates who called, wrote or emailed their Senators and Representatives regarding homeless programs are to be congratulated for making their voices heard.

A heartfelt thank you also goes to the Congressional sponsors of the funding request letters.

• Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) led the McKinney-Vento funding letter, which called for $2.2 billion in funding for Fiscal Year 2013.  In many communities HUD’s McKinney-Vento program is the single most important source of federal funding to help end homelessness.  The program has been strongly supported by Republican and Democrat-led Administrations and Congresses.  Unfortunately, funding was held level at $1.9 billion last year endangering progress at ending homelessness. The President’s budget request of $2.2 billion will help more fully implement the HEARTH Act giving communities the resources to create new supportive housing and invest in other proven interventions such as rapid re-housing and other prevention programs.  The Moore letter supported the President’s request for this program.  View the letter or the text version of its signers.

• Representatives Al Green (D-TX) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) led a Dear Colleague letter for HUD-VASH funding.   HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers are a key tool to ending veterans’ homelessness by combining a Section 8 voucher with case management services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Over 47,000 HUD-VASH vouchers have been funded since 2008 and we’re seeing real results: the latest HUD report showed a 12% drop in veterans’ homelessness in just one year.  The President’s request of $75 million will allow a new round of 10,000 HUD-VASH vouchers to come to our communities to help end veterans homelessness.  The bipartisan Green/Grimm letter supports the President’s request. View the list of signers. 

• In the Senate, Senators Reed (D-RI), Snowe (R-ME), and Schumer (D-NY) led a joint letter in support of both the McKinney-Vento program and the new round of HUD-VASH letters.  View the list of signers.

• Representative Marcia Fudge’s (D-OH) Dear Colleague letter called for returning HUD funding of the HOME program to at least $1.6 billion.  HUD’s HOME program allocates money directly to localities for the purpose of investing in affordable housing creation.  This flexible funding stream has many important uses, but perhaps none is more important than when it serves as a financing gap-filler to keep a development alive while other funding sources are pulled together.  CSH estimates that HOME funding is used in approximately 80% of supportive housing developments that we’ve worked on.  The President’s budget also unfortunately proposes to keep the program level-funded at the low FY 12 funding level of $1 billion; HOME was funded at $1.6 billion in FY 11 and $1.825 in FY 10 and FY09.

• Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Coons (D-DE) led the Senate letter in support of both the HOME program as well as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.  View the list of  signers.

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