The FY2016 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill is heading to the full US House Appropriations Committee for consideration, possibly the week of May 13. The House is in recess this week, a perfect opportunity for supportive housing providers and others who care about homeless people to invite Congresspersons or their staff members to see first-hand the needs and good works being accomplished in their districts. Here are some key concerns to stress with your Congressperson when you meet (or talk on the phone):
- The bill does not restore Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) lost due to sequestration cuts. CSH has been working alongside the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to restore lost vouchers and target vouchers to homeless families with children; provide vouchers to families involved with child welfare and youth transitioning from foster care; persons with disabilities exiting institutional settings and homeless veterans ineligible for HUD-VASH. Although the bill includes an increase for HCV renewals, it does not include additional funding for targeted vouchers
- The bill does not provide adequate McKinney-Vento resources. Hopefully, the $50 million increase in McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance will cover program renewals, but there are no additional resources for communities to reach their goal of ending chronic homelessness.
- The bill prohibits funding for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). Although the Federal Housing Finance Agency made a determination last December to fund the NHTF, monies to create more affordable housing have not yet reached communities and providers. The House T-HUD bill shifts funding from the NHTF, essentially raiding it, resulting in no real increase in FY2015. This provision undermines the goal of having a stable source of funds dedicated to the creation of affordable housing for extremely low-income households.
- The bill does not provide funds to create new supportive housing for persons with disabilities. Even though there is an increase for Section 811 supportive housing, which integrates persons with disabilities into communities, the appropriation is nowhere near the amount required for states to address the law under the Supreme Court’s Olmstead States and communities must have the resources to create new supportive housing, bringing independence and dignity to those exiting institutional settings.
- The Slight Increases in Funding for Housing are Unacceptable: On paper, there are increases for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance and Project-Based Section 8, but these are simply hold the line and do not increase affordable housing opportunities for clinically and socially vulnerable populations, including those struggling with homelessness.
What can you do? A LOT! Meet with, call or write your members of Congress and tell them to increase funding for programs designed to expand affordable housing, supportive housing and end homelessness.