Many months of patient education and tireless advocacy by homeless activists in communities across the nation have resulted in a significant increase in federal funding for homelessness.
The Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Consolidated Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2617), also known as the Omnibus bill, was unveiled earlier today. Lawmakers who serve on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees increased the Homelessness Assistance Grants (HAG) account to $3.63 billion. This is an increase of $420 million, which is consistent with the Alliance’s request. The 13.1% increase is the largest ever for the homelessness program; and the total amount is also the largest ever for the program.
What Do These Increases Mean?
It is not always easy to interpret messages from Congressional actions, but it could easily be argued that this robust increase, impossible without some bipartisan support, represents a strong vote of confidence in local homelessness response systems and the front-line workers. These are the people who have striven mightily to keep people experiencing homelessness safe, despite economic turmoil, a pandemic, and a critical shortage of affordable housing.
The Alliance continues to review this massive piece of legislation, which still must pass the House and the Senate and be signed by the President before it becomes law, although that is expected to occur by the end of the week. Please check back in with the Alliance for further details on the FY23 Consolidated Appropriations Bill.
With that caveat in mind, here’s a break-down of the homelessness funding:
|Funding Item||Dollar Amount|
|Continuum of Care (CoC) and rural housing stability assistance||$290,000,000|
|Projects to assist survivors of domestic violence dating violence, sexual assault or stalking||not less than $52,000,000|
|National homeless data analysis project||$7,000,000|
|Comprehensive approach to serving homeless youth||$107,000,000|
|Youth homelessness system improvement grants||not less than $25,000,000|
|Technical assistance||up to $10,000,000|
|One-time award for new construction, acquisition, or rehabilitation of new permanent supportive housing||$75,000,000|
|Awards for states with populations less than 2,500,000||not less than $30,000,000|
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may establish by notice an alternative maximum amount for administrative costs of no more than 5% or $50,000, whichever is greater, notwithstanding the 3% limitation. The Alliance had asked for this change, especially given all of the intersectional planning required of CoCs.
Affordable Housing Measures
Increasing the amount of funding for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) was the Alliance’s second most important legislative priority. The FY23 Omnibus bill would increase the TBRA appropriation to $30.3 billion, an increase of almost $2 billion from last year’s amount. The Alliance had supported the Administration’s request of $32.1 billion.
|Dollar Amount||Funding Item|
|$26,402,000,000||Renewal of tenant-based vouchers|
|$606,000,000||Sec. 811 vouchers, incremental and renewals|
|up to $7,500,000||Tribal HUD-VASH renewals, and additional funding to renew HUD-VASH vouchers funded in prior years|
|$50,000,000||New incremental vouchers to expand affordable housing opportunities to low-income people (including families and individuals experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence)|
|$50,000,000||New incremental HUD-VASH vouchers|
|$30,000,000||New incremental family unification vouchers|
|$337,000,000||Tenant protection vouchers|
Veteran Homelessness Funding Amounts
Overall funding for veteran homelessness programs grew to almost $2.7 billion, an increase of $500 million.
Included in the overall amount of $2,695,392,000:
|Dollar Amount||Funding Item|
|$750,167,000||Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF)|
|$557,921,000||HUD-VASH (which covers the Department of Veterans’ Administration’s case management costs for the program, but not the costs of vouchers)|
|$276,368,000||Grant and Per Diem programs|
Funding for the Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program was set at $65.5 million, an increase of $5 million from the previous year.
Other Notable Funding Allocations and Legislation
The FY23 Consolidated Appropriations Bill would increase funding for Education for Homeless Children and Youth to $129 million, an increase of $15 million above last year’s level.
Finally, though not part of the FY23 Omnibus, another Alliance priority is poised to become law. The Flexibility in Addressing Rural Homelessness Act (H.R. 7196) was included as Section 5707 in the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 7776).
If the NDAA is signed by the President, as is expected, rural communities would be allowed to spend Continuum of Care funds on short-term emergency lodging, including in motels or shelters, either directly or through vouchers; repairs such as insulation, window repair, door repair, roof repair, and repairs that are necessary to make premises habitable; and capacity building activities, including payment of staff training and staff retention.
This legislation was bipartisan from the very start, thanks to the leadership of Representatives Cindy Axne (D-IA) and Frank Lucas (R-OK); and the support of lawmakers who oversee HUD and the Pentagon—House and Senate, Republican and Democratic—ensured its inclusion in the big defense bill. Observers insist that this is an excellent bipartisan precedent to build from in the next Congress.
These projected funding allocations and pending legislation show a clear and demonstrated federal focus on addressing and ending homelessness nationwide. With the release of national homelessness data, combined with the recently released Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, these budget increases to address homelessness are a concrete sign of the Administration’s commitment to working on this issue. While the budget still needs to pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President, the Alliance is hopeful that this elevated federal urgency will promote further progress on homelessness.