A RIGHT to shelter

From a blog post by Jack Compere at PovertyInsights.org

This cartoon posted on povertyinsights.org, pretty much sums up the reason why advocating for homeless prevention is so important.

They have a RIGHT.

The Continuing Resolution passed the house with almost 70 amendments to it, cutting down the House GOP proposal of $100 billion in cuts to about $64 billion in non-security funding cuts. If these cuts would go into affect March 5th, Transportation and Housing & Urban Development funding would need to be cut by 36.4% to reach the proposed level.

The cuts in funding for housing are as follows:

  1. Public Housing Capital fund – 43% cut.  This fund helps agencies make repairs for units that house nearly
    1.2 million low-income residents
  2. HOME Investment Partnerships – 10% cut.  HOME provides funding for rental assistance and development
    of affordable housing
    for low-income residents.
  3. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – ELIMINATED.  Proposed to eliminate all funding that goes
    to assisting low-income families that need help paying their cooling and heating bills.

(All of this information is in the link on “Continuing Resolution” above, coming from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.)

Everyone has a right to shelter.  Notice the cartoon does not lend itself to saying that all people have a right to own their own home.  The reason why the homeless population remains steady because the lack of affordable housing in our nation.  Cutting funds from the parts of HUD mentioned above will further this trend and make it more difficult for people to afford shelter.

It is time to call your Senators.  Let them know about the importance of funding for the rights of their constituents.  Almost 1 in every 5 homeless individuals in Marion County is a veteran. If we can’t at least help provide a right for someone who defended ours, then I don’t know what the next step is.

I am always looking to learn more.  I am not an expert on these items by any means, but advocacy starts with conversation.  Please comment or question below, so that learning and understanding can take place!

Level funding for non-security programs is VITAL

This past week has been a big one on the advocacy front.  The House has been spending all day and almost all NIGHT debating on H.R. 1 – FY 2011 Continuing Resolution.  (The fancy term for all of the federal budget cuts.)

House Republicans proposed a $100 BILLION cut in non-security programming.  Non-security programs are exactly what the term means, all other programs other than military, homeland security, and veterans affairs.
A quick break down of the non-security programs are below:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA
  • Commerce, Justice, Science
  • Energy and Water Development
  • Financial Services and General Government
  • Interior, Environment
  • Legislative Branch
  • State, Foreign Operations

My reason for bolding Health and Human Services and HUD is because those are the two programs that make sure the Health Center Program gets funding and that affordable/supportive housing gets funding.

It is VITAL for these non-security programs to maintain level funding.  The way for this to happen is for Congress to vote to extend the Continuing Resolution (CR) for another year.  With a CR extension, non-security programs will still have an average cut in funding of 8.9%. HUD’s percentage loss – 15%, and HHS’s percentage loss – 7.3%.

“[A]ssuming Congress adopts new appropriation legislation that takes effect on March 5, funding for non-security programs would have to shrink by 15.4% below the CR’s level for the rest of the fiscal year 2011.”

The Health Center Program would lose 1.3 billion dollars in funding. The 3.3 million patients that gained access to health care from these funds will now have to be turned away.  Expansion of health centers into communities of need will have to stop.  In our state of Indiana, we would lose 138 newly created jobs, 2 health centers would have to close their doors, and we will have to deny 77,170 patients health care.

Transportation and HUD would lose 23% of its funding set for 2011.  Some have stated that the CR cuts will make sure that those in public housing, housing programs, or homeless shelters will be displaced, but how does that seem possible when you cut almost 1/4 of the available funding.

Health Center and Homeless advocates need to be heard.  Call your legislators, email your legislators, and spread awareness on the importance of level funding. While non-security programs are set to see at least an 8.9% cut in funding, security program funding is leveled if not increased.  I am not at all saying cut military funding, and I never will.  However, it is hard for me to say it is right to cut spending at home on PROGRAMS THAT HELP OUR OWN FELLOW AMERICANS and keep level funding elsewhere.


Advocacy is needed for all things in life…

Advocacy is essential to all causes.  It helps raise awareness, gather the masses, and eventually cause change.  And, change is the primary motivation for most non-profit organizations and social programs.

The reason I am starting this blog is really to gather the masses of advocates.  Sure, my bias is Indianapolis, IN, but in our world nowadays the masses can be gathered globally through a couple of clicks.

My bias toward homelessness prevention advocacy comes from my first internship I had in between my junior and senior years at Wabash College.  I interned at Partners in Housing, an organization that creates and manages affordable housing for the homeless in Indy.  Following Indianapolis’ Blueprint to End Homelessness, Partners works to give homeless persons housing FIRST along with support services.  This internship sparked not only my interest in staying in the non-profit sector but also keeping in touch with serving the homeless.

Now that I am working at HealthNet, Inc. I am connected with the Homeless Initiative Program.  A program that includes street outreach, employment training, services for homeless veterans, and MUCH, MUCH more.  Gaining awareness for homelessness prevention will help create an Indianapolis that supports its citizens who are enduring one of the worst circumstances to happen to a human being.

My bias for community health center advocacy is obvious if you clicked the link above for HealthNet.  My passion for this advocacy is growing, and I learn something new each day that I walk into our administration building that is connected to one of our centers, Barrington Health Center.  CHCs bring greater access to health care for the low-income, uninsured, and underinsured who find it difficult to not just find AFFORDABLE health care but health care that is within driving distance! HealthNet is Indiana’s largest FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center), and we are expanding to better serve the citizens of Indy who need it.

I hope to use this blog to bring together the masses of advocates and friends of advocates to open up discussions, raise awareness for INDY’s biases, and inspire change.  Change that will make this city, a small part of this world, a better place for everyone.

Please comment below or email me at matisw22@gmail.com to further the conversation!