Helping Congress Understand the Realities of Homelessness
September 14 was Capitol Hill Day, the Alliance’s virtual event with Senators, Representatives, and their legislative staff via Zoom.It was a big day! Thanks to more than 1,200 advocates from across the country, the Alliance organized 245 legislative meetings which ranged from 20-30 minutes to more than an hour. While Capitol Hill Day has traditionally been part of the Alliance’s annual conferences in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Capitol building and legislative office buildings remain closed to the general public. Virtual meetings with lawmakers have become the new normal. The remote aspect of these discussions aren’t ideal, but the format also expands access to many people who wouldn’t be able to travel to the nation’s capital in person. The Alliance is grateful for all the providers, people with lived experience, state and local coalitions, Continuum of Care (CoC) system leaders, local officials, and other advocates who were able to join. During these meetings, advocates asked Members of Congress and their staff for critical funding to help prevent and end homelessness.
Key Talking Points with LegislatorsThe Alliance’s policy goals during these meetings focused on two priorities:
$3.6 billion in overall funding for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants. This program creates a strong foundation for locally managed homeless systems across the country to house the most vulnerable in their communities and provide support services people need to stay housed.
$32.1 billion for the Tenant Based Rental Assistance account to boost the federal government’s commitment to reducing homelessness, helping people with low incomes afford a place to live and moving more families out of poverty.Advocates also asked for support of important policies like protection against source of income discrimination, safe parking programs, landlord incentives and flexible funding, and flexible documentation requirements. But perhaps the most impactful component is when these asks came from people who have connections to these issues themselves.