Advocacy Update: Homelessness Funding and Legislation -- Resources and Opportunities!

Advocacy Update
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Homeless Assistance and Housing Choice Voucher Funding Update
Congress is continuing its work on fiscal year (FY) 2016 spending bills. Last week the House Appropriations Committee passed their version of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) bill, including a $50 million increase over the FY 2015 enacted funding level to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program to $2.185 billion. While this funding level is an increase, it would only allow programs to operate at their current capacities, without providing any new housing resources.
This bill also includes a $665 million increase over the FY 2015 enacted funding level for Housing Choice Voucher renewals to $18.151 billion. This increase would not be enough to renew all vouchers families are using this year.
Here’s What You Can Do: 
  1. Call Your Senators!
    1. Find out who your Senators are by typing your address in here:
    2. You can find your senators’ offices’ contact information by visiting 
    3. When you call the offices, ask to speak to the person who handles housing issues for the Member.
  2. Tell the staff person to urge their boss to contact the Chair or Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee and tell them that providing $2.480 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in FY 2016 is a high priority.
  3. Let us know who you called and what they said!
  4. Forward this Advocacy Update to your networks, so that they can make calls too.
Another Opportunity:
  1. Participate in Capitol Hill Day 2015!
    1. As the National Conference on Ending Homelessness approaches, the Alliance is preparing attendees from around the country for Capitol Hill Day, taking place on July 17. Capitol Hill Day provides participants with the opportunity to meet with their respective Members of Congress to discuss the nature and extent of homelessness in their state or district and urge them to take specific action with regards to programs serving people experiencing homelessness.
    2. For more information about Capitol Hill Day 2015, please contact Jaime Colman at or Julie Klein at
More Information:
Considering the tight budget caps Congress is currently working under, we are relieved and glad that appropriators worked so hard to prevent cuts to homeless assistance. However, this funding level is FAR from ideal and is $295 million below the President’s proposed amount of $2.480 billion for McKinney that we are pushing for this year, which would provide 25,500 new permanent supportive housing units and rapid re-housing interventions for 15,000 families. Further, the bill does nothing to restore the 67,000 Housing Choice Vouchers lost to sequestration or implement the President’s proposal to target a pot of these vouchers to populations experiencing homelessness.
This bill will still need to be voted on by the full House, and the Senate T-HUD subcommittee is expected to release their draft version of the bill soon, possibly as early as next week. If the bills pass the full House and Senate, they will need to be conferenced or replaced with another spending bill as the result of a larger budget deal. Much remains to be seen in terms of whether budget caps will be raised to allow Congress to adequately fund programs, and the FY 2016 spending bill is expected to be finalized in the fall or early winter. 
We still have a long way to go to secure the Administration’s proposed $2.480 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and the $21.1 billion to restore vouchers lost to sequestration, including vouchers targeted to populations experiencing homelessness!
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The Alliance Takes a Stance on the Homeless Children and Youth Act
The Alliance has taken a public stance on the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which was introduced early this Congress by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in the Senate (S.256), and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) in the House (H.R.576) to address family and youth homelessness.  Our statement outlines the problems the bill aims to address, the detrimental impacts the approaches the bill takes would have, and suggests alternative approaches that could be taken to address these problems.

Here’s What You Can Do:
  1. Read the statement.
  2. If you are willing to participate in advocacy actions to explain to your Members why changing the definition of homelessness would be harmful, should any future bills including such language arise, please let us know.
  3. Reach out to us with any questions about the content of the statement
    1. Questions specific to families can be directed to Sharon McDonald and questions specific to youth can be directed to Mindy Mitchell
More information>>
Engage the Media When You Release Your PIT Count Data!
When your community releases its 2015 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count data, it is important to engage your local media outlets to let them know about recent trends in the nature and extent of homelessness in your community so that they can cover this news. When you reach out to them with the data, you can also provide them with the Alliance’s State of Homelessness in America 2015 report as a reference to contextualize the new data by comparing it to trends from the previous year. It is also important to explain the impact that federal funding for homeless assistance programs has in ending homelessness in your community, and the role that your congressional delegation, (particularly those Members who serve on the House or Senate Appropriations Committee), plays in ensuring that sufficient funding is available to end homelessness in your community.

Here’s What You Can Do: 
  1. Send out a press release announcing a decline or increase in homelessness in your community and connect this to current policy asks. (Note: If you use the below example, please modify the language to make it as personalized and specific to your community’s homeless assistance or affordable housing needs as possible!)
    1. Federal Policy Example: “Until a final FY 2016 spending bill is passed, we call on Representative/Senator X to do everything he/she possibly can to secure the President’s proposed funding increase of $345 million to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program, which would rapidly re-house 15,000 additional homeless families and provide 25,500 units of permanent housing with supportive services for chronically homeless people.
  2. Contact journalists or editors for your local paper who have covered homelessness in the past (you can find them by googling the name of your local media outlet along with the term “homelessness” and find further tips here). Let them know about the new numbers and offer to send along your press release.
    1. Optional: Propose to write an op-ed to run at the same time as any story featuring your community’s PIT Count data.
    2. Optional: If you’re unable to secure an op-ed, write a letter to the editor in response to the story.
  3. Use your own communications channels (website, social media, blog, etc.) to amplify and expand on the op-ed or letter to the editor. Make sure you target your member of Congress by emailing his or her communications and housing staffers and tweeting @hisorherhandle about the op-ed or letter to the editor.
  4. If you’re unable to get an op-ed or letter to the editor published, you always have your own channels. Run a blog post, tweet about it, etc. and make sure your member of Congress knows about it.
More Information: 

See this document for further information about how to engage the media, including more tips for finding contact information for journalists and editors. If you have any questions about how to best work with your local media to highlight your new PIT numbers, our Communications Associate, Emanuel Cavallaro, can help. Note that if your PIT Count data has already been released, but local media outlets have not run stories about it, it is not too late to bring this to their attention! For help strategizing around your policy asks and which congressional targets to call on, Julie Klein or Jaime Colman can help. 
More information »
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Releases New Housing Fact Sheets
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has released two new housing fact sheets with updated data on federal rental assistance by state. The first fact sheet covers all federal rental assistance programs, which includes who is helped by federal rental assistance, the share of rental assistance in each state provided by federal programs, the housing need, and the recent cuts in rental assistance funding. The other fact sheet covers Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), which includes who is helped by HCVs, the number of HCVs lost to sequestration, the housing need in each state, and the dollar amount of rent payments to private landlords.

Here is how you can use CBPP’s new housing fact sheets:
  1. Read and download CBPP’s new housing fact sheets for your state here.
  2. Use the fact sheets to educate your Members of Congress’ staffers who cover homelessness and housing issues in your state and district.
    1. You can find contact information for Senate offices here.
    2. You can find contact information for House offices here.
  3. Share the fact sheets on social media and in your networks.
  4. Add the data as context to your writing or to your media interviews.
More information »