The Most Important Thing That Congress Can Do This Year

By: Steve Berg
November 26, 2018 —

The last few weeks have been full of activity, and the midterms make for a lot of change when the new 116th Congress begins on January 3.

But the 115th Congress still has work to do! They begin their final session this week, with the expectation of adjourning for good on December 13. There are many items on their agenda, but for people working on homelessness the most important item is finalizing a spending bill for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for the 2019 fiscal year.

The Alliance’s Advocacy team is focused on making sure that Representatives and Senators know how homelessness is affecting their constituents. That includes updating them about the important work happening in their districts, so they understand the value of federal investments in ending homelessness. And we’re making sure they know that this work has widespread support.

WHERE WE STAND NOW

As a recap: The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have each passed a FY19 bill for HUD. Both include modest increases for Homeless Assistance and in the capacity of the Housing Choice Voucher program. The truth is that those increases won’t get us very far, because so many communities are dealing with increased housing and homelessness crises. So, we’re working to ensure the final bill funds these priorities at a higher level than either of the preliminary versions.

Temporary extensions of FY 2018 funding are in place but set to expire on December 7, and there is already posturing about “shutting down the government” (or at least the one-third or so of the government whose funding bills haven’t passed yet).

Whether or not there is a shutdown, in all likelihood there will be a decision either to finalize the remaining appropriations bills; or to extend the Continuing Resolution until January and let the new Congress deal with it. A final bill before the end of the year is more likely, and more desirable in many ways, so it’s important to act now to let Congress know what our communities need.

YOU CAN HELP

We will need your help, so we encourage everyone interested in sharing your voice to sign up for the Alliance’s Advocacy Alerts to learn how you can take action. The Alliance has created new tools that make it easier than ever to speak up for the resources we all need.

The work everyone has done already this year has already had an important impact. It’s time to finish the job.

 

Steve Berg

Vice President for Programs and Policy
Steve Berg works at the National Alliance to End Homelessness and specializes in employment, economic development and human services, and the crossover between those issues and housing.

 

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