In mid-July, a leadership team from Tulsa attended the National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Washington, D.C. The three-day conference covered many important and trending issues facing those working to end homelessness, including Rapid Re-Housing to keep the vulnerable from falling too far behind and Housing First to give security while also addressing issues like addiction and mental illness that led to homelessness.
The team included top Community Service Council leadership as well as leaders from our partners, the City of Tulsa, the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, the Mental Health Association Oklahoma and Tulsa Cares.
The final day was spent on Capitol Hill speaking to the Oklahoma delegation to the U.S. Congress. We addressed the following legislation that will impact our work in housing and homelessness:
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants: Congress should invest in proven solutions to homelessness by providing at least $2.6 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants in FY 2018. This represents a $217 million increase over the FY 17 level, which would end homelessness for 40,000 more people, allowing communities to keep up with rising number of people losing their housing due to increasing rents.
Medicaid Protection: No final health reform bill should cap or cut Medicaid or phase out the Medicaid Expansion. Furthermore, no proposed targeted funding, such as for addressing the opioid epidemic or flexible innovations, can sufficiently replace core federal spending on Medicaid.
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH): Senators should co-sponsor S. 743, introduced by Senators Collins and Reed, which would eliminate USICH’s sunset date. Congress should also fund USICH at its current $3.6 billion level in FY 2018 and include appropriations language to extend the fall 2018 sunset date if S.743 has not passed.
Affordable Housing: The Appropriations Committee should carefully determine the amount of funding needed for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, Project-Based Rental Assistance Programs, and Public Housing accounts to ensure that existing levels of capacity remain funded. Maintaining and beginning to increase these programs is essential to preventing and ending homelessness. Assisting with an end to homelessness would be one of many ways this would benefit our nation.