The U.S. House panel that oversees funding for HUD programs is on track to maintain increased funding for housing and community development programs, but the bill has some issues and we all need to keep advocating for Congress to do the right thing.
The House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee’s draft Fiscal Year 2019 spending bill would maintain the 10 percent increase in HUD funding that Congress approved for FY18 earlier this spring. Moreover, it rejects the administration’s plan to jack up rents, impose vindictive work requirements, and unworkable time limits.
The THUD Subcommittee’s draft comes shortly after the National Housing Week of Action, a nationwide effort to focus attention on the affordable housing shortage. COHHIO kicked off the Week of Action on May 1 by delivering a joint letter on behalf of more than 250 organizations to the Ohio’s Congressional delegation calling for increased funding for homeless grants, rental assistance, public housing and other critical HUD programs.
Throughout the remainder of the week we posted a series of video postcards from people representing a variety of backgrounds all discussing the importance of housing for improved health care, education, the economy, and of course homelessness. We posted these videos on our Facebook page and Twitter feed and tagged key members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation to make sure they see that homelessness and affordable housing issues matter to people from many different sectors. Thanks to everyone who joined the sign-on letter and recorded a video for our social media campaign!
Back in March we helped coordinate a housing tour for Rep. David Joyce to see how Extended Housing, Inc. is working effectively to house Northeast Ohio constituents who are struggling with mental illness and homelessness. Rep. Joyce is the vice chairman of the House THUD Subcommittee, which just drafted a bill to increase HUD funding.
The evidence is mounting: advocacy works, especially when it’s coordinated among organizations in different states and various sectors. It also has to be strategically targeted and able to show legislators how abstract budget line items translate into real, tangible progress for their most challenged constituents.
But, as always, there’s more work to do, especially as the FY 2019 budget moves through the process. Despite the overall increase for HUD, the bill falls short of the funding needed to renew all existing Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Rental Assistance.
COHHIO will work with our national partners and state counterparts to ensure these critical housing programs are fully funded as the bill moves to the full House Appropriations Committee and the Senate. And we’ll let you when we need your help calling and writing to your Congressional representatives to amplify our call for a budget that maximizes our capacity to fight homelessness and expand access to housing. If we continue making our case persistently and effectively, we could see another big win in the final FY 2019 budget.
For more information on what’s in the draft FY 2019 spending bill, visit the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s website here.