Hill Watch: Appropriations Process Moves on to 2019
Much-needed increases in SSVF proposed
If you attended the Public Policy Session at the NCHV Annual Conference, or attended any NCHV policy event in the last year or two, you will have heard NCHV’s Policy Director talking about the need for increased Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) funding. In 2017, the field lost $207 million worth of SSVF funding from a “surge” of three-year grants that were awarded in 2015. This money came from fifty-six high-need communities across the country that were using this money to rapidly re-house or prevent the homelessness of tens of thousands of veterans annually.
Recently, in funding bills for Fiscal Year 2019, Congress has stepped up to the plate to reinvest that money in communities that have been crying out for it. A bill containing the VA funding proposals passed the House of Representatives on Jun. 8, becoming the first appropriation bill to make it across the Capitol dome to the Senate. In that bill, the House proposed that most VA Homeless Programs be flat-funded (neither cut nor increased).
On the Senate side however, the news is significantly better. The Senate also proposed that most VA Homeless Programs be flat-funded, with two notable exceptions. The Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) Program was slated for a $5 million increase over last year’s funding level, and the Senate proposed the SSVF program be increased by $110 million over last year’s funding level.
If the Senate numbers are enacted, this increase to the SSVF program would bring the total funding for the year up to $450 million. This number is enough to replace the annual cost of the lost 2015 “surge” grant money. NCHV applauds Congress, and in particular the Senate Committee on Appropriations, for their work on the VA budget. NCHV firmly supports the Senate bill and its attendant funding increases.
Other good news can be found in the work of the subcommittees devoted to the department Housing and Urban Development; both the House and Senate bills include $40 million for new HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers, despite the President’s Budget Request not including new vouchers for the third year in a row. Furthermore, both House and Senate bills include a full $3.6 million appropriation for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), a critical and irreplaceable partner in the effort to prevent and end veteran homelessness. There has been some worry that the USICH would be defunded as a cost-saving measure proposed by the Administration; these two bills ensure the USICH will be strong and effective in FY 2019. Though the two HUD bills have not yet advanced as far as some of the work on the VA side, NCHV projects that these two numbers are likely to be in the final product.
Finally, Section 520 of the bill includes language that would ensure that money which Congress has appropriated for homeless programs in FY 2019 may not be moved away from them by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This includes, significantly, the HUD-VASH program. In essence, this provision provides another protection for the HUD-VASH program – in the coming fiscal year – against any attempts that VA may wish to make to re-designate this funding as “general purpose” funding.
As it is every year, this process is and will be fraught with delays and set-backs. For example, we have yet to receive finished products from the House or Senate respecting the Department of Labor and its Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) – and there will no doubt be missed deadlines in the coming months. Please stay tuned to NCHV updates for more information as we learn it.
Transitioning from Transitional Housing Guide Now Available
Released at 2018 NCHV Annual Conference, available online
Strategic change can be tough for established programs, however, change is sometimes necessary to provide the highest levels of service to veterans in our communities. Grant and Per Diem providers have long been a part of the fabric of a community response to veteran homelessness.
As the program changes, some providers may receive less funding or opt out of the program entirely. This Transitioning from Transitional Housing guide, developed by CSH for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and funded through the generosity of The Home Depot Foundation, offers guidance on the options providers can pursue to ensure that they address the needs of veterans they are currently serving and strategically transition their remaining resources to a programmatic structure that fits in with their community’s plan to address the needs of veterans who are experiencing homelessness and/or have low incomes.
The guide is written for providers and walks through key considerations for making changes to programs, three scenarios that a current GPD provider may be facing, and recommendations for how to move forward in each. The guide concludes with a list of resources that will help providers create and implement a transition plan for each program.
Comment Period Open for VA Case Management Services Grant Program
Comments must be received on or before Aug. 6, 2018
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its regulations that govern programs benefitting homeless veterans to implement a new statutory requirement to establish a new grant program that will provide case management services to improve the retention of housing by veterans who were previously homeless and are transitioning to permanent housing and to veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless. The grant program established by this interim final rule will be an essential part of VA's attempts to eliminate homelessness among the veteran population.
This final rule is effective June 5, 2018. Comments must be received on or before August 6, 2018.
Written comments may be submitted through http://www.Regulations.gov; by mail or hand-delivery to: Director, Regulation Policy and Management (00REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW, Room 1063B, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273-9026. (This is not a toll-free telephone number.) Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to “RIN 2900-AQ15—Case Management Services Grant Program.”
To read the full notice from the Federal Register, click here.
Free Suicide Prevention Resource
From Columbia Lighthouse Project
Suicide prevention is an integral part of veteran advocacy. In order to increase suicide prevention efforts, Columbia Lighthouse Project created a Suicide Severity Scale. This is a free test that can be used by anyone in order to determine whether a veteran, a family member, or anyone else you might know is at risk for suicide. It then tells you what steps you can take to help. This scale is backed by organizations such as VA hospitals, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes for Health, and more.
To access more suicide prevention resources provided by Columbia Lighthouse Project, click here.
Free Online Course For Understanding Advocacy and Lobbying Laws
From Learn Foundation Law
Four prominent foundations recently launched a course designed to help U.S. public charities and others seeking grants from private foundations to fund advocacy work. The course, designed by top lawyers, helps grantees understand the lobbying and advocacy laws that affect them. This course covers topics such as understanding advocacy, lobbying under IRS rules, funding options, and getting the most out of your grant.
Barbasol has a charitable foundation that provides grants for community food banks, homeless shelters, and other social services. These grants have primarily been awarded around Ashland and Columbus Ohio, however, the foundation is open to offers from elsewhere. The next grant application deadline is Jan. 10. For more information on how to apply, click here.
The Dresner Foundation offers grants for the development of new projects and for the acquisition of capital (i.e. equipment or renovation). Organizations applying must operate in or affect Denver, CO, Southeast MI, and/or The Aspen Parachute Corridor, CO. Grant applications are accepted year round. For more information on how to apply, click here.
Charles Lafitte Foundation offers grants to organizations that promote inclusiveness while looking to alleviate human problems. There is no geographic or monetary limit on this grant, all grant applications will be considered. Grant applications are accepted year round. For more information on how to apply, click here.
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