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1999 Budget
of the US and Homelessness


BACKGROUND:
A supplemental spending bill is under consideration by both the House and Senate; the bill would provide additional spending authority for the Department of Defense and disaster relief. House appropriators are planning to offset the increased spending by cuts to other programs, including $1.9 billion in HUD Section 8 reserves. If Congress rescinds this money, Section 8 contracts are still likely to be renewed, but other HUD programs will have to be cut to make up for the loss of funds.Although the President's budget request contains funding increases for some homeless programs, the proposed increases still fall far short of meeting the growing need for housing and shelter. Demand for emergency shelter greatly exceeds supply in many communities, and millions of people nationwide are on waiting lists for housing assistance programs. According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors' 1997 survey of 29 cities, 27% of all requests for emergency shelter went unmet in 1997. Without a greater federal commitment to housing and homeless assistance programs, more people will experience homelessness and struggle to find shelter. For a chart of past funding levels for homeless programs, click here.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:
Please call your Senators and Representatives immediately and ask them to oppose any attempts to offset the supplemental bill with any housing money. Funding for housing programs has already been slashed dramatically over the last four years, and should not be further cut.Please also urge your Representative and Senators, as well as the following legislators, to support funding for homeless and housing programs at NCH's recommended levels. Given the recent projections of the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office that the nation can expect federal budget surpluses in the near future, the opportunity to make investments in solutions to homelessness is ripe. It is most appropriate that a portion of these surpluses be directed to permanent and interim solutions to the chronic conditions of poverty and homelessness that linger in the midst of economic plenty, and that in fact have been exacerbated by several years of federal funding reductions and changes in welfare and housing policy.

Senate Budget Committee -- Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
House Budget Committee -- Representatives John Kasich (R-OH) and John Spratt (D-SC)
House Appropriations Committee -- Reprensentatives Robert Livingston (R-LA) and David Obey (D-WI)
Senate Appropriations Committee -- Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Robert Byrd (D-WV)

All Members of Congress may be reached at 202-224-3121. The President may be reached at 202-456-1111.

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