The Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and its ranking republican member Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), passed its Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations bill on June 25. The bill significantly improves funding levels for housing programs serving the most vulnerable compared to the bill that passed the House Subcommittee a week earlier.
The difference between the House and Senate bills was not unexpected. Appropriations subcommittees must write bills that fit under a leadership-imposed spending cap. The Senate subcommittee’s cap was significantly higher than its House counterpart and therefore committee leadership had more leeway to fund priority programs.
The Senate Subcommittee proposed funding HUD’s McKinney-Vento program at $2.25 billion, which is $150 million more than the House version of the legislation. Section 8 housing choice voucher renewals would receive $17.6 billion, which is $600 million more than the House proposed to provide. The HOME program is proposed to be funded at $1 billion, which is equivalent to last year’s allocation, is $50 million more than the President’s request and $300 million more than the House figure. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program also received much stronger support in the Senate than in the House. The Subcommittee proposed $3.15 billion in FY 14 funding for CDBG, compared to just $1.69 billion in the House and $2.8 billion in the President’s request. Collectively, these four programs are critical to the maintenance and creation of supportive housing to keep the most vulnerable people in our community stably housed.
A $3 million pilot program designed to provide rental assistance to Native American veterans on tribal lands who are homeless or at risk of homelessness was also included in the Senate bill. CSH is hopeful that this pilot program is included in the final version.
CSH encourages advocates to contact your Senators and Representatives in support of the Senate T-HUD Subcommittee’s allocations. We also urge advocates to write to your local newspaper, use social media and any other means at your disposal to educate policymakers about the importance of federal funding for the creation of cost-effective solutions to ending homelessness and housing those in greatest need in our community.
CSH has prepared this sample letter to the editor.