Sequestration Has a Face, And It’s Homeless

From the National Alliance to End Homelessness:

The Senate Appropriations Committee has released its own version of the legislation finalizing federal funding for FY 2013. Unlike the House’s version, which was a “clean” Continuing Resolution (CR) that funded all federal programs (other than programs within the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense) at FY 2012 levels, the Senate includes various “anomalies,” which are variations within the CR.
Fortunately, the Senate’s legislation (full details can be found here) the following key anomalies for HUD programs:
The bill includes a $128 million increase in funding for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants to reduce the impact of reductions to housing, shelter, and prevention programs, bringing the program total to $2.033 billion.

By the Alliance’s estimation, once the sequestration cuts of 5% are in place, this would result in an overall cut of approximately 12.6% to the Emergency Solutions Grant Program and an 8.6% cut to the Continuum of Care programs in the FY 2013 NOFA.

It also includes an increase in funding for administration and oversight of the Section 8 TBRA program. It also provides HUD with additional flexibility to ensure that tenants don’t lose their housing assistance.

Finally, it increases funding for the public housing operating fund to help make up for the one-time reduction in FY 2012.

While we are certainly grateful that these programs received increased funding in the Senate’s version, we must work to ensure that the House, which included no anomalies, agrees to these changes in the final version of the legislation.

Here’s What You Can Do:

Call your Members of Congress (both your senators and your representatives) especially if they sit on the Senate or House Appropriations Committee. You can reach their offices by calling the congressional switchboard at 202.224.3121. You can also call direct with the contact information in the following locations:

House: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Senate: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm (search by State)
Try to speak directly with the person who works on housing issues in the office.
Tell them that the final FY 2013 legislation must include as much funding as possible for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. You can use these talking points (http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/fy-2013-mckinney-appropriations-sample-congressional-talking-points) to help you make your case. Make sure to discuss the negative impact a nearly 9% cut in funding would have in your community.
Send this alert to others! A vote is likely to take place in the next few days, so the more people there are taking action as soon as possible, the better our chances for securing an increase to McKinney programs for FY 2013.
More Information: The 5% cut to the Senate’s proposed funding level of $2.033 billion would result in a final FY 2013 spending level of $1.931 billion – slightly higher than the FY 2012 funding level. Due to increased renewal burdens for the Continuum of Care programs, this would ultimately result in the 8.6%cut to CoC programs and the 12.6% cut to ESG programs.
The Senate is likely to pass the legislation very soon, at which point the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will work out the differences in the legislation to create a final, compromise bill that will be passed and signed into law. If your Member sits on the Appropriations Committee, they have the opportunity to impact this process. If your Member doesn’t sit on this Committee, encourage them to work with their colleagues on the Committee to ensure McKinney receives as big of an increase as possible.
We must take this opportunity to let Congress know this will not stand. Underfunding and cutting programs for our nation’s most vulnerable people – including children, veterans, youth, families, and chronically homeless individuals – is simply unacceptable. Their attempts to quickly wrap up the FY 2013 process and balance the budget should not happen on the backs of our poorest citizens. Call your senators; call your representatives. Tell them enough is enough: the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants must be funded at the highest possible level in FY 2013.

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