Homeless Assistance Safe for Now But Advocacy Still Needed
As a result of Congress’ inability to reach a budget agreement, the federal government partially shut down last night at midnight with the end of the fiscal year.
This past week, each chamber of Congress proposed Continuing Resolutions (CRs) that would have temporarily extended FY 2013 spending levels to fund the federal government until fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations levels are finalized.
However, the House majority insisted on tying delayed implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to any CR, while the Senate majority refused to agree to a delay of ACA implementation. It was this impasse that led to the partial shutdown.
Although the partial shutdown will have detrimental impacts to various federally funded programs and most federal employees will be furloughed, immediate impacts to homeless assistance programs will fortunately be minimal.
HUD and HHS homeless assistance programs, including HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program, will continue to operate as usual since they are still spending funds from FY 2013. In fact, in some cases programs such as HUD’s Continuums of Care (CoC’s) are still spending FY 2012 funds. Homeless assistance programs are also considered to be ‘essential’ programs, so key staff will not be lost.
When the federal government reaches its legal debt limit in a few weeks, it is possible that a large budget deal including FY 2014 funding will be made as part of an agreement around raising the debt ceiling. Possible outcomes of a final budget deal could range from undoing recent cuts to enacting deeper cuts.
No matter how and when a budget deal is struck, it is important that Members of Congress know that increased funding for homeless assistance programs MUST be included in any funding package. Therefore, it is critically important that we continue to keep up the drumbeat around the issue of homelessness to ensure that it remains on Members of Congress’ radars amidst larger budgetary considerations. We need you to reach out to your Members of Congress this week about the importance of robustly funding homeless assistance programs in FY 2014.
Funding to run the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is also expected to remain secure unless the shutdown lasts past December. Targeted homeless assistance programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will remain in operation as per usual since VA programs operate on advance funding. Individual entitlement programs such as Social Security, SSI, Medicaid and SNAPS will be unaffected for the time being.