Dear FY 2016 Homelessness Funding Advocates,
I hope you all enjoyed your summers and are well rested and fired up to make some calls to your congressional offices as part of National Call In Days tomorrow and Wednesday, urging Members to raise unfair spending caps and increase homeless assistance spending! We encourage you to take part in this timely effort organized by Caps Hurt Communities, a new initiative spearheaded by the Campaign for Housing and Community Development (CHCDF) that aims to build a movement of individuals and organizations committed to bringing an end to federal sequester caps (see “more information” below for details).
As you may recall, the federal funding process broke down earlier this year when none of the spending bills passed through both chambers of Congress, largely because many Members felt the spending caps the bills were written to were too low to adequately fund programs. Congress is expected to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at current levels past the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Then, it will need to negotiate a budget deal and finalize FY 2016 funding levels. As they work to make these decisions, Members need to hear from advocates that it is important to lift unfair budget caps to allow appropriators to increase resources for homeless assistance, affordable housing, and community development programs in the final FY 2016 spending bill.
Here’s What You Can Do:
- Tomorrow, September 15 and Wednesday, September 16, between 9 am and 5 pm EST, call your members of Congress by dialing the Congressional switchboard at 877-210-5351.
- When you reach your Members’ offices, ask to speak to the staff person who handles housing issues.
- Deliver this message: “It’s time to pass a housing budget that works for our communities. Please raise the federal sequester spending caps to robustly fund affordable housing programs and provide $2.480 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in FY 2016.”
- You can use any of the below suggested talking points to help you make your case.
- “Americans with the lowest incomes are facing increasingly desperate housing circumstances. Incomes at the bottom of the labor market remain stagnant despite the ongoing recovery, while rents for modest apartments are going up faster. Federal programs that have historically relieved inequality, particularly at HUD, have been scaled back. Congress needs to step up on a bipartisan basis to raise spending caps and divert additional funds to programs serving those at risk of or experiencing homelessness, or more homelessness is inevitable.”
- Explain the effectiveness of housing and homeless assistance programs. You can pull from these talking points.
- Explain the detrimental impact that flat funding or budget cuts to these programs would have on your community, (referencing harm caused by the FY 2013 sequestration cuts, if applicable).
- “The Administration’s proposed $2.480 billion for McKinney would allow the nation to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2017 and build resources that will be needed to end family and youth homelessness by 2020.” Explain what this would mean for your community.
- Spread the word about National Call In Days by forwarding this email or sharing this Advocacy Update or this blog.
- Reply all to this email to let us know which offices you called and what the responses were!
Sequestration refers to mechanisms that were set in place to achieve spending reductions through the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). One mechanism required nine annual sequesters of $109 billion to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The first of these annual sequesters took effect in FY 2013, in the form of across-the-board cuts to programs’ already enacted spending levels. Since then, sequestration has been implemented by adhering to lowered defense and non-defense spending caps. However, since the Bipartisan Budget Act temporarily raised the caps for FY 2014-FY 2015 but has now expired, the caps we are facing for FY 2016 are much tighter than in recent years.
These caps would provide approximately flat funding in FY 2016 for nondefense discretionary spending, compared to FY 2015 funding levels. The $2.185 billion spending level included for McKinney in the House bill (written at sequestration level spending caps) should allow programs to continue operating at their current capacities, but would not provide new housing resources. The $2.235 billion for McKinney in the Senate bill (also written under these caps) would provide limited new housing resources with a strong focus on youth homelessness initiatives, but would not make the critical investments in permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing that were included in the President’s Budget Proposal.
The Administration’s proposed $2.480 billion for McKinney would be a HUGE help to the national effort to end homelessness. It would cover the cost of maintaining existing CoC and ESG capacity; provide $40 million, as in the Senate appropriations bill, to jump-start work on youth homelessness; and provide new housing resources to allow us to end chronic homelessness by 2017 and make substantial progress on ending family homelessness. We will not be able to secure this funding level unless the current spending caps are raised. There is much at stake, so please take a moment to call your Members of Congress tomorrow or Wednesday and explain why these caps need to be lifted. And as always, don’t hesitate to let us know if you have questions, and we look forward to hearing about your calls!
Assistant to the President/Policy Outreach Associate
National Alliance to End Homelessness
1518 K Street NW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20005