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2022 Leadership Summit

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A gathering of people with previous experience with homelessness on November 12, 2022 to set a national agenda for ending housing instability in America.

Click to register.

Why Do We Need to Meet?

For 42 years, the National Coalition for the Homeless has worked to amplify the voices of those without housing on the national level. We have worked with leaders on the local level to bring their voices to Congress and to the attention of national media. We have regular interaction with advocates in the major cities in the United States and receive input from people living in urban and rural environments. NCH is governed by a majority of people with previous experience and we have a sizable number of our staff who were once homeless. We believe that it is critical for the groups to meet together to share common advocacy strategies, find out about the obstacles faced by other communities, and to work together on a common agenda.

In 2015, we held a gathering in Denver, Colorado of over 100 individuals who all represented constituents of people currently or formerly homeless. This gathering was the beginning of the strategic planning process, and an event in Washington would be the continuation of that movement. We had some best practices featured and a long day of workshops and the start of building community. A great deal has changed in the last seven years and it is time to complete the work of 2015.

History of Planning:

Because of Covid, we have not been able to meet in person for three years. While we can accomplish a great deal via Zoom, it does not afford the individuals the opportunity to express themselves. We also believe that breaking bread together at a soup kitchen, church basement or a hotel conference room is important for building interpersonal skills and trust among the groups.

In 2021 we held a follow up summit via Zoom in which 65 people attended virtually. We talked about community organizing strategies, we had various leaders talk about successful strategies from the past including demonstrations, using art to win the message, and lawsuits. We talked about how groups sustain themselves and how we can work together going forward. We distributed a community organizing manual that people could use in their local work to lift people up.

Goals for the 2022 Leadership Conference

These are the recommendations from the groups that attended the first organizing meeting.

  • Develop a national strategy of priorities that the grassroots can rally around
  • We want to have a specific focus on how we can stop the criminalization of homelessness.
  • Provide the tools for the local community to act with lessons from the past and strategies that have worked in other communities.
  • Meet with national leaders to listen to the issues that groups face on the local level.
  • Work with the local community to have those who are without housing are in the lead in a real way and not just figuratively.
  • Develop hotspots that with some national pressure might be willing to change policies to better serve those without housing.
  • Develop an action plan for the participants to go back to their communities which will result in real solutions to the affordable housing crisis.

CARES Act: What’s in it, and what do we still need?

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NCH members sent over 1,600 letters to Congress urging greater relief and stimulus for homeless and at-risk communities. Thanks in part to this action, the Federal government has now enacted the third stimulus package for COVID-19, known as the CARES Act. While this is an important step in providing relief to people who are economically vulnerable, there is still much more needed to keep our communities healthy, housed, and safe. Notably missing were increases in food assistance, adequate health and housing support for Americans losing their jobs, and enough support to house our vulnerable homeless neighbors.

The CARES Act included $4 billion for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG). This money can be used for shelter for short term and medium term housing assistance such as Rapid Rehousing. Usually with ESG grants there is a state matching component, but this component has been waved for purposes of this emergency funding. Of the total, $2 billion will be released as soon as possible under the pre-existing formula. The last $2 billion will be released based off of community needs, an assessment of which will be forthcoming.

Also included is $5 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). Similar to the ESG funding this money will be distributed in waves. There will be $2 billion released to states and communities based off of the fiscal year 2020 formula. One billion will be released to states and another $2 billion will be released to states and local governments based on risk and housing disruptions.

Further funding:

  • $1.25 Billion in tenant based rental assistance
  • $1 billion for Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)
  • $300 million in tribal housing grants
  • $120 million for 202, 811, and HOPWA housing
  • 2.5 million for fair housing
  • $30 billion in Disaster Relief Funds
  • $150 Billion in flexible funds for states and municipalities that can be used for rental assistance and other community development needs
  • $3 billion for rental assistance for Public Housing Authorities.

Also included in this bill is a 120 day moratorium on evictions. However, this moratorium only covers renters living in public housing or project-based rental assistance programs. The majority of renters renting from private landlords would not be covered. The moratorium on evictions only applies to new filings of evictions. This means if you are already scheduled to be evicted this moratorium will not protect you. Also this law only protects people who have not paid rent. All other forms of evictions are not included.

This is a great first step but we need much more to protect our most vulnerable. Here are the policy asks the National Coalition for the Homeless is calling for:

  • Cancel the FY2020 COC NOFA
  • Emergency rental assistance for all tenants
  • Ensure moratoria on evictions do not lead to mass evictions after the emergency has passed
  • Extend health care for uninsured/underinsured
  • Extend funding for hotel/motel space after the emergency passes
  • Facilitate transfer of unused/vacant housing to families who are unhoused
  • Increase food assistance through the SNAP program

YOUR ACTION IS STILL NEEDED!

 Thank you all for your great work during this difficult time. Stay safe.

Related issue areas:
Fixing Unemployment Insurance
Disaster Loans for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

TAKE ACTION to protect unhoused folks during the COVID-19 outbreak

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We applaud Congress for passing the Families First CoronaVirus Response Act, which will provide immediate paid sick leave and paid family leave to millions of people, expanded unemployment insurance, vital nutrition aid, more Medicaid funds for states, and free COVID-19 testing.

Image by Western Regional Advocacy Project

Image by Western Regional Advocacy Project

But they left out critical resources for people experiencing homelessness!!

Our unhoused neighbors are more likely to have underlying health conditions, use spaces with congregate settings (public transportation, shelters, soup kitchens), have already diminished life-expectancy, have limited ability to follow public health advice, or suffer from stigma and discrimination in accessing basic services. (Read more in the National Health Care for the Homeless Council‘s issue brief)

It is imperative that services, medical care, resources, and support for people experiencing homelessness is included in any further Federal Coronavirus response. 

We are all in this together – we must act now! 

We are asking for lawmakers to:

  1. Provide $15.5 billion specifically targeted to people who are currently homeless. This should include language that adds “medical respite care” services into allowable/prioritized uses for emergency CoC funding.  

  2. Cancel the 2020 NOFA: Direct HUD to automatically renew Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Funding in 2020 to programs that were recently renewed through the 2019 renewal process, as currently allowed in the HEARTH Act, so long as the Continuum of Care Entity documents that a) there is a continuing demonstrated need for the project and b) that the project continues to comply with CoC program requirements.  Use the 2020 CoC NOFA process to competitively award only additionally appropriated funding for New Projects to meet the needs of those currently on the streets, in shelters, or the newly homeless.

  3. Require HUD to increase flexibility to allow communities to utilize CoC Homeless Assistance Funding to meet local needs and local priorities.

  4. Call for a moratorium on all homeless encampments sweeps during the pandemic. The CDC has released guidelines saying encampments should not be displaced unless housing is available

  5. Provide $50 Billion of new funding for expansion of Low Income Housing Tax Credits targeted to housing for homeless families and individuals, expansion of the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and expansion of Project Based Section 8 funding for permanent supportive housing and housing for families experiencing homelessness.

These demands are absolutely imperative to the safety, wellbeing, and care of people experiencing homelessness, and we cannot wait. Contact your Legislator below!

 

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