Wyden, Merkley urge White House to include $4B in homeless assistance grants in FY23 budget

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) – Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., this week urged President Biden to include $4 billion in homeless assistance grants in his Fiscal Year 2023 budget so Oregon and the entire country can make additional progress towards sheltering unhoused people and ending homelessness.

“Nationwide, nearly 600,000 people experience homelessness on any given night, and around one-third of them are unsheltered: living somewhere unfit for a person, like a car or tent,” Wyden and Merkley wrote in the letter signed by 12 other senators to President Biden. “You have the opportunity to make historic progress towards ending homelessness by investing in Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) and the Continuum of Care (CoC) program with $4 billion in your FY23 budget. In the strongest, wealthiest nation on earth, we must do more to support, shelter and house our most vulnerable neighbors.”

The senators noted in their letter how the pandemic has highlighted significant holes in the social safety net, and that the unsheltered homeless population and the community service providers who support them need greater federal investment than they have received in recent years even with recent federal investments such as the CARES Act significantly increasing shelter beds capacity nationwide.

Wyden has steadfastly emphasized the need for all levels of government-from national to local-to respond to homelessness with all deliberate speed, putting federal dollars to use paying rent and putting roofs over people’s heads.

“However, outside of pandemic emergency relief measures, federal funding still has not caught up to demonstrated need,” the senators wrote. “It’s long past time that the federal government’s policies and budgets reflected that urgency – especially now with the ongoing pandemic – to safely house everyone without a roof over their head.”

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, other senators signing the letter are U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The entire letter is here.