Stand up, Speak up: Three resources for getting involved in the budget debates today

by Janice Elliott June 21, 2017

As I travel around the country, I have been asked one question over-and-over again:

How has your work been impacted by the political turmoil in Washington?

If anything, it has put a laser focus on staying true to what works to prevent and end homelessness, whether it’s a vet coming home or a young person kicked out of their home:

  • an affordable home,
  • accessible and affordable health care,
  • a decent income,
  •  a supportive hand up, and
  • compassion

The last one is free but the rest could be at risk for thousands—if not millions—of Americans depending on the outcome of federal budgetary debates in the coming days and weeks.

And beyond the budget cuts, there is a very real risk that federal policies that support cities and states in adopting the most effective practices in reducing homelessness could be undone—including Housing First, for which there is a large and growing evidence base of its effectiveness. A perfect example of this is Connecticut’s 24% drop in homelessness over the past three years, due in large part to its provision of supportive housing and rapid-rehousing grounded in Housing First principles.

That’s why I am heartened to see so many outstanding organizations providing the data and evidence that legislators need to make thoughtful decisions (should they be so inclined) and making it possible for people across the political spectrum to speak out for what works. Here are a few examples of what some of our national partners are doing to inform the debate and lift up these voices:

1. The National Alliance to End Homelessness

National Call-in Day to Protect Medicaid, June 22, 2017

One of the least talked about but essential tools in the fight against chronic homelessness is Medicaid. Medicaid helps ensure that people experiencing homelessness can get adequate and appropriate help and treatment when it is needed.

Learn more

2. The National Low Income Housing Coalition

Lift Up Your Voice Week, July 22-29 and launch of OurHomes-OurVoices.org

Check out the new website, OurHomes-OurVoices.org. Millions of Americans do not have an affordable place to call home and over half a million people—including families with young children, people with disabilities, and youth who are alone—are living in the street, in cars, or in shelters. This site and campaign helps advocates press for greater investment in affordable homes.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, their Out of Reach report is a MUST read. The takeaway: There isn’t one single state, county or metro area in America where a basic two-bedroom apartment is affordable to someone making the minimum wage and working full time, year-round.  Meanwhile, only one out of four eligible low income households receives housing assistance.

Read Out of Reach and see how much someone in your state needs to earn to afford to rent

Visit OurHome-OurVoices

3. Urban Institute and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Go behind the numbers and see the impact of the budget on housing and homelessness with these compelling budget analyses.

From the Urban Institute:
Read The Cost of Homelessness Will Spike if Congress Adopts Trump’s 2018 Budget Proposal

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Read Trump Budget Would Increase Homelessness and Hardship in Every State, End Federal Role in Community Development

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