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March 4, 2016
The Honorable Susan Collins
Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Jack Reed
Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Chair Collins and Ranking Member Reed:
As you begin work on the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we urge adequate funding for programs that serve poor and vulnerable households struggling to make ends meet.
In 2014 Catholic Charities agencies provided housing services to over 500,000 people, including permanent housing for over 33,000 and emergency shelter to over 10,000 people every night. Despite these efforts, over 70 Catholic Charities agencies across the country continue to have waiting lists for housing. Indeed, according to HUD only 25 percent of households that qualify for housing assistance actually receives it. In response to such widespread unmet need, HUD programs need more resources, not less.
Unfortunately, housing and community development programs received a relatively small portion of the increased resources in the last appropriations cycle. We urge you to correct this oversight and provide robust funding for the following programs:
In addition to the above programs, increased support for the Community Development Block Grant, Housing for People with AIDS (HOPWA) and with Disabilities (Section 811), and Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (HUD-VASH) is necessary in order to continue to serve poor and vulnerable families across our country.
In The Right to a Decent Home, the Catholic Bishops of the United States noted, "Since decent housing is a human right, its provision involves a public responsibility. . . . Government must supplement and regulate the activities of private individuals and institutions in order to achieve our housing goals. A creative partnership of private enterprise and government is necessary" (no. 75). The Catholic Church, inclusive of all its ministries, is one of the largest private providers of housing services for the poor and vulnerable in the country. We serve as many as we can, yet still fall short of serving all our brothers and sisters in need. The reality is we cannot do it alone, and in many cases government at every level is an important partner in our work.
As you know, the effectiveness of these housing programs has been hampered in recent budget and deficit agreements. While Congress still faces serious challenges in balancing needs and resources, and allocating burdens and sacrifices, these programs that help to satisfy the basic human right to shelter should receive special attention.
Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski
Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
Sister Donna Markham, OP, Ph.D.
Catholic Charities USA
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