President Barack Obama has released the final budget proposal of his Administration with an eye toward ending family homelessness by 2020. The budget plan sets out the priorities of the Administration in its last year and is just the first step in a long process.
Most notably, the President requested $11 billion in mandatory funding over ten years for housing assistance to help homeless families. The request is a legislative proposal to create a new account called Homeless Assistance for Families that would provide voucher rental assistance and some rapid re-housing to serve homeless families with children. The Administration cites the Family Options Study as evidence that vouchers are the most effective housing resource for promoting family stability and ending homelessness for families with children. Earlier this year, CSH hosted a webinar where panelists discussed how important vouchers are to family stability and preservation, and how critical advocacy around increasing vouchers will be in FY2017. The President’s funding proposal compliments the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) request for $88 million in discretionary spending to provide 10,000 new vouchers for homeless families, $15 million for testing mobility strategies for families, and $25 million to support community-wide approaches for serving homeless youth.
The budget also includes other important policy and funding recommendations such as:
- Increased funding of $400 million for the Homelessness Assistance Grants to support the creation of 25,000 new supportive housing units to serve chronically homeless households.
- $10 million for a Pay for Success Initiative within “Second Chance Act” funding to create more supportive housing opportunities for those leaving incarceration.
- $500 million in new funding to improve permanency services for families involved with child welfare, promote family-based care for children with mental and behavioral health issues, and enhance transition planning for young adults leaving foster care.
It is important to keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the budget process. Congress will have to consider the merits of the proposal through its own budget and appropriations cycle.
Last year, in order to avoid a government shutdown, Congress passed a two-year budget deal that temporarily increased funding for non-defense discretionary programs above Budget Control Act (BCA) caps. In FY2017, there is only $23 billion available over BCA caps for all non-defense discretionary programs, which includes Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-funded programs. This small opening leaves very little wiggle room for fruitful negotiations between the Congress and Administration.
What Can Be Done to Ensure Congress Pays Attention to the President’s new plan?
Now is a critical time to tell Congress to increase the allocation for T-HUD (Housing and Urban Development) appropriations to meet the goals set out in the President’s budget proposal and the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
Your group can join other advocates in urging Congress to increase the budget allocation for HUD programs, by signing onto the 302(b) Allocation letter. Deadline for signatures is February 19, 2016.
If your group would like to be more involved in advocacy efforts to increase federal investments in supportive housing, please contact Eva.Wingren@csh.org to join the National Supportive Housing Coalition.