This week, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee that oversees federal housing programs, urged her colleagues to meet the housing needs of the country’s most vulnerable populations during the federal appropriations process for fiscal 2017. She proposed funding increases for a variety of federal housing programs, notably the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (McKinney Vento), in four separate letters to Congressional appropriators.
Underscoring the urgent need to end homelessness in this country, Waters asked her colleagues to not only provide the full $2.66 billion requested in the President’s budget for the McKinney Vento program in FY 2017, but also asked for an additional $5 billion in emergency spending for the program to address increases in homelessness across America’s major metropolitan areas.
“Homelessness has reached crisis proportions in some parts of the country, and we cannot expect to make any significant progress towards our nation’s goals for ending homelessness without substantial new funding,” Congresswoman Waters wrote in the letter. “In the richest country in the world, it is simply unconscionable that 564,708 of our neighbors across the country are living without a place to call home.”
The full text of the McKinney Vento letter can be found here.
In another letter, Waters and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, were joined by 69 colleagues in requesting more money for HUD housing programs that serve low-income families, seniors and persons with disabilities. This includes more than $10 billion for public housing, more than $30 billion for Section 8 rental assistance programs and close to $800 million for programs that exclusively serve the elderly and persons with disabilities.
“Federal housing assistance is essential for providing safe, decent and affordable housing for our nation’s most vulnerable populations,” the Members wrote. “With an aging population, and many communities still struggling to recover from the housing crisis, our federal housing assistance programs should be a top priority in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bill.”
To read the full letter, click here.
Reps. Waters and Cleavers also led a request, signed by 14 of their colleagues, for increased funding and programmatic changes to rural housing programs under the Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the Rural Development Voucher Program, Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loans, Section 514 Farm Labor Housing Loans, and the Multifamily Preservation & Revitalization Demonstration program.
The changes to rural housing programs “will help protect vulnerable tenants by ensuring that vouchers and other resources are available, and by investing in the preservation of aging Section 515 and 514 properties,” the letter stated. The full text can be found here.
Lastly, Congresswoman Waters joined close to 140 colleagues requesting robust funding – at least $3.3 billion – for HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program. The letter highlighted the program’s track record of success, including benefits to over 122 million low- and moderate-income individuals through public services.