COVID-19, Capitol Jam, and FY21 Appropriations

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As the US Senate negotiates a fourth coronavirus relief package, the House of Representatives is readying FY21 appropriations, and a selection of Youth Collab members participated in our third annual “Capitol Jam” to educate Congressional offices about the impact of COVID-19 on young people experiencing homelessness. 

COVID Relief Package: Senate Republicans have released their version of the fourth COVID relief package, known as “Phase IV”. The House passed its vision for a Phase IV package--the $3+ trillion HEROES Act--back in mid-May. The Senate’s version is significantly smaller (totally approximately $1 trillion) and does not include additional funding for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) or rental assistance, among other homeless services priorities. 

Senate Republicans are fractured and there is no consensus on their Phase IV legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will need Democrats’ support in order to pass a compromise bill. There appears to be some agreement building around additional direct stimulus payments to American families and another round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), although the two parties are still miles apart on  other substantive issues such as extended unemployment benefits and aid to state and local governments. Youth Collaboratory and others have called for significant new investments in homelessness services through HUD and FYSB, rental assistance, nondiscrimination protections, and a moratorium on evictions and aging-out of the foster care system. 

Capitol Jam: Recently, some Youth Collaboratory members participated in our third annual, first virtual, Capitol Jam.  Youth Collaboratory members met through Zoom and conference calls with staff to numerous Senators in key positions and committees with jurisdiction of homelessness policy to educate them about the impact of COVID-19 on young people experiencing homelessness. The event was a successful test-run for future virtual events which we hope will broaden access to the Hill for young people and others who in the past might not have been able to travel to Washington, D.C. for traditional Hill days. 

Appropriations Update: As the Senate deliberates on COVID-related relief, the House of Representatives is preparing to vote on its regular appropriations for fiscal year 2021. Highlights of the House’s FY21 bill include:

  • $162 million at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for youth-specific services and projects, systems planning grants, and technical assistance to infuse the lessons of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) into all Continua of Care nationwide. 
  • $140 million at the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) for Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) programs.
  • $100 million at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for Youth Mentoring Grants (YMG). 

The federal fiscal year ends on September 30 and both the House and Senate still need to finalize their spending bills. Given the upcoming election, it is likely Congress will pass a continuing resolution in September to temporary fund the government until after the election, with the intent of finalizing FY21 in November-December. 

This Blog post is added to our Public Policy Blog series

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