Flat funding for veteran homelessness programs; proposed cuts to safety net programs
Today, the White House released the Fiscal Year 2018 President’s Budget, which proposes funding levels for discretionary programs as well as mandatory funding. This document is an expansion of the President’s “Skinny” Budget, released several months ago at the beginning of President Trump’s term. The numbers and policies described below are currently only suggestions made by the White House; each house of Congress will make their own suggestions, and reach agreement among themselves.
All of the federal programs which we consider to be pillar programs for preventing and ending veteran homelessness were all proposed for flat funding, or in one case a slight increase in funding. These programs include the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP), the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, and the Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. Specifically, the requested numbers are:
GPD: $257 million, the same amount they received this fiscal year,
SSVF: $320 million, also the same amount they received this fiscal year, but $80 million less than NCHV believes the program needs to reauthorize the expiring 2015 surge grants,
HVRP: $45 million, matching the amount it received this fiscal year,
HUD-VASH case management: $543 million, an increase of $47 million over this year’s numbers. This increase provides case management funding for the additional vouchers appropriated in fiscal year 2017, and
No additional HUD-VASH vouchers funded by the HUD Department were requested, though all current HUD-VASH vouchers, including Tribal HUD-VASH vouchers will remain in circulation.
NCHV supports the increased case management funding for the HUD-VASH program, and the robust funding of the GPD program. However, NCHV does not support the flat funding of HVRP, the underfunding of the SSVF program, or the lack of new HUD-VASH vouchers. NCHV calls on Congress to build upon the good aspects of this proposal and continue to invest in the veterans who make America great.
In addition to the pillar programs above, the President’s Budget also called for the elimination of programs like the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). NCHV firmly opposes any such cut that would hamper the creation or rehabilitation of affordable housing. Affordable housing is absolutely critical to ending any type of homelessness. The President’s Budget also called for the passage of the House of Representative’s American Health Care Act, which NCHV expressed concerns about here.
Also worth highlighting are proposed changes to entitlement programs including Medicaid, SNAP, and SSDI. The proposed changes to these programs include limitation of eligibility, reductions in spending and delegation of authority to the States, return to work initiatives and work requirements. The vague descriptions of some of these proposals, and the variety of responses States could have to these policies, make direct prediction of effects difficult. However, short term results are clear. If enacted, these policies would lead to near term gaps in funding for critical programs upon which many veterans rely. SNAP alone serves roughly 1.7 million veteran families a year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Even in programs that escape funding shortages, the proposed tightening of eligibility and introduction of work requirements may make it more difficult or impossible for homeless or at-risk veterans to access these critical programs.
NCHV will continue to keep you updated as the negotiations over funding and these entitlement programs progresses.
This eNewsletter is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
For the latest news, resources and grant information, visit our website at www.nchv.org.
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
1730 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-546-1969 or toll-free 1-800-VET-HELP