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FY13 Budget Update: progress for DC homeless services

Last week, the City Council held the first and only vote on the Budget Request Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (the dollar amounts) and the first of two votes on the Budget Support Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (the legislative language).   

The final vote on the Budget Support Act will be held on June 5.  All of the calls, e-mails, rallies and walkabouts by COHHO (Coalition for Housing and Homeless Organizations) and other coalitions had an impact.  The Councilmembers, especially Council Chairman Kwame Brown, talked about the impact of the advocacy on their understanding of the need for affordable housing and services for homeless persons.  As a result, some of the cuts were restored.  But we still have work ahead of us between now and June 5 to restore some other cuts and to increase funding for affordable housing and homeless services.

1. The needed $7M for Homeless Services for individuals during non-Hypothermia (April-October 2013) is approved as Priority #1 in the list of programs that will funded if and when there is additional revenue. There will be 3 financial reports between now and December 2012 that could make this possible.

2. There is no new money added to expand Housing First, the Department of Human Services’ Permanent Supportive Housing program.  However, the $4M that was sought to be added to expand Housing First was instead added to the Tenant-based Local Rent Supplement Program.

3. The Council APPROVED $4M for Tenant-based Vouchers in the Local Rent Supplement Program, specifically for 250 homeless families in the homeless shelter/motel system.

4. The $2M for the Project-based or Sponsor-based portion of the Local Rent Supplement Program has NOT yet been funded.  This modest amount is necessary to enable Permanent Supportive Housing units to be developed and be available for the next 40 years. Councilmember Michael Brown is still working on this.  It would have to be included in the Priority List to be funded when there is additional revenue later in the year.

5. The Council found $18M to restore most of the $19.9M that the Mayor had taken from the Housing Production Trust Fund.  This is a one-year fix, and there is concern about the need to restore the same amount to the HPTF for each of the next four years.

6. A tax exemption for properties owned by nonprofits that develop affordable housing for extremely low-income persons PASSED.

7. The Council did not find $5.65M to avoid the 20% cut in monthly TANF benefits for families that have been on TANF for 60 months or more. There is a chance of getting the $5.65M into Priority # 2 which would provide $14.7M for the TANF job program.   If this is not done on June 5, the 20% cuts are scheduled to take effect starting on October 1, 2012.

Check back here for continued updates on the FY13 Budget!

Written by Nechama Masliansky and Geoff Millard, co-Facilitators, COHHO’s Budget Advocacy Workgroup for Affordable Housing and Homeless Services

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