The automatic, across-the-board federal funding cuts that became known as “sequestration” took effect on March 1, 2013, cutting $85 billion from spending. Last week the Congress adopted a new “continuing resolution” to authorize fund the government through the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, 2013. Homeless advocates had hoped that legislation would be an opportunity to restore some of the cuts in vital safety-net programs for homeless people and those at risk of homelessness. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. In fact, the new continuing funding law actually makes the cuts the “baseline” funding level for the impacted programs, meaning it may be that much harder to restore cuts in the next federal budget.
Care for the Homeless consumers and staff recently visited with several New York City area members of Congress in Washington, D.C., to talk about the impact of the cuts. Our consumers explained there is a need for more, not less, services – especially in New York City where the homeless population is at an all-time record high. What’s more, they said, these cuts threaten real people with losing adequate health care, the opportunity for HIV testing and substance abuse treatment, and the opportunity for housing. In fact, cuts to federal housing programs will mean over 100,000 newly homeless individuals.
Care for the Homeless will suffer losses in federal funding through Health Care for the Homeless grants, Ryan White funding for HIV testing, and cuts in substance abuse treatment funding. More important, these cutbacks make it that much more difficult to fight, prevent and end homelessness.