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Ways to Get Involved in Texas Homeless Network's Advocacy

Image of a man holding a green sign that says "Advocate. Educate. Change Lives.". Text on a white background next to the image says "Become a THN Advocate today to protect and expand the rights of those experiencing homelessness in Texas."

Join Our Work as a THN Advocate Today

By joining as THN Advocate today, you are not only showing solidarity with THN’s advocacy work to end homelessness in Texas, you are also adding your voice to our collective statewide movement. No matter the amount you can donate, or the level to which you can participate in our actions, your support is crucial to our work. Without donations like yours, our advocacy would simply not be possible. In order to protect the rights of those experiencing homelessness and promote better policy, we need your help.

Join the movement today to end homelessness tomorrow.

By joining as a champion you will receive:

  • THN “Housing Ends Homelessness” t-shirt.*
  • Discounted member registration for the THN annual conference.
  • Your name listed on the Current Supporters page.
  • THN staff assistance on local policy issues.**
  • Handwritten note from THN’s staff as a thank you
  • The opportunity to participate in select policy committees and task forces.
  • Exclusive communication about THN’s statewide initiatives.
  • A THN Advocate sticker.**

Donate Now to Become a Champion.

By joining as a leader you will receive:

  • THN staff assistance on local policy issues.**
  • Handwritten note from THN as a thank you.
  • The opportunity to participate in select committees and task forces.
  • Enhance influence and shape the legislative agenda.
  • Exclusive communication about THN’s statewide initiatives.
  • A THN Advocate sticker.**

Donate Now to Become a Leader.

By joining as a changemaker you will receive:

  • Investment in a collective, effective, voice in homelessness advocacy.
  • The opportunity to participate in select committees and task forces.
  • Enhance influence and shape the legislative agenda.
  • The chance to engage in statewide dialogue about laws and proposed bills, funding opportunities, and community efforts to end homelessness.
  • Exclusive communication about THN’s statewide initiatives.
  • A THN Advocate sticker.*

Donate Now to Become a Changemaker.

 

By joining as an ally you will receive:

  • Investment in a collective, effective, voice in the state, local, and federal homelessness-related advocacy efforts.
  • A digital toolkit and information about homelessness in Texas.
  • Exclusive communication about THN’s statewide initiatives.
  • A THN Advocate sticker.*

Donate Now to Become an Ally.

If you are interested in becoming a THN Advocate but are unable to donate, please email us for ways to be involved at no cost!

* Merchandise gifts may take 6-8 weeks to arrive after donation.
* Up to 2 hours of technical assistance per year, per individual

THN's Current Advocacy Work

      • Staff continues to participate in state and national calls to advance legislative efforts for affordable housing, decriminalizing homelessness, and funding for wrap-around homeless services in all communities in Texas.
      • THN continues to meet with state and federal elected officials and their offices to advance our policy goals to end homelessness.
      • THN received a grant from the Opportunity Starts at Home (OSAH) campaign to form a multi-sector coalition to advance federal housing and homelessness issues. We are very thankful to receive the funding to continue this intitiative through 2022. Read our blog post for more information about this initiative.
      • Statewide Initiatives staff is co-leading monthly meetings of the Texas Housing Coalition, a collaborative working group of statewide agencies invested in protecting housing and increasing affordability in our state.
How you can help:
Sign onto the following action letters:

Current COVID-19 Advocacy:

Current COVID-19 Response:

Past COVID-19 Response:

      • Staff, THN Advocates, and community partners participated in a national calling and writing campaign to urge Congress to pass Coronavirus funding bills for homelessness and affordable housing. Through our advocacy, Congress included housing and homelessness funding in both COVID-19 relief packages.
      • THN Statewide Initiatives staff pushed a letter to legislators to urge the cancellation of the 2020 CoC NOFA.
      • THN Statewide Initiatives staff sent a letter requesting a 10% increase in CoC funding in the FY 2021 Congressional Budget.
      • View THN’s COVID-19 page for more information.
 

Current COVID-19 Racial Equity Advocacy:

Racial Equity During COVID-19:

 What we know: 
 
Picture of a black woman with braids with an overlay of speech boxes over her face.
Read More about COVID-19 and Racial Equity in our THN Advocacy Newsletter by Clicking the Picture Above

What We Need to Do to Promote Racial Equity:

Local: City and county leadership must ensure that there are adequate testing locations and healthcare options in communities of color. In addition, municipalities should create local protections for low-income renters, and develop testing policies that promote racial equity.
 
State: Officials must enact stronger and more expansive protections for those in danger of losing their housing, who are disproportionately people of color. Broad, free, and accessible testing must be implemented for all communities across our state. Rent relief and a renewal of the moratorium on evictions should be provided to Texans. View Texas’ COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard here.
 
Federal: Demand Congress to support more rapid response to address homelessness and racial inequities in healthcare and housing.

THN Policy Stances & Press Releases

In an effort to create a strong and unified voice, THN has led efforts to create statewide policy stances on issues surrounding homelessness. We invite individuals and communities to use these sample press releases as templates in advocating at a local, state, or federal level. We ask that when you use our language, please let us know when and where you are sharing the message. 

Press Releases

Past Public Statements on HUD Proposed Changes

The 2021 Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Academy

Do you have lived experience of homelessness or housing insecurity?
Are you passionate about advocacy or want to learn more about advocacy?
 
The THN Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Academy is a completely free training program for folks with lived experience. Cohort members learn about organizing, systemic barriers, storytelling, and network with members from across the state.
 

The details:

      • Participants must commit to the full 5-month training cohort. 

      • The monthly time commitment is 5-6 hours with 2 hours of live virtual events.

 
Applications for the Spring Academy are now closed.
Stay tuned for applications to reopen in 2022. 
 

2020-2021 Federal Advocacy

When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, folks experiencing homelessness and homeless services providers across the country were hit especially hard. While THN continues to push for more holistic funding for communities large and small. The CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act provided much-needed resources to communities across the state.

Texas Homeless Network works with a large number of other organizations and individuals to support federal legislation that will expand affordable housing opportunities, fund housing for folks exiting homelessness, wraparound services, and keep folks in their homes as long as possible. These goals strongly align with our organization’s mission to end homelessness. The following are examples on how federal advocacy has impacted people experiencing homelessness and homeless service providers in Texas: CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act’s impact on Texas:

      • Nearly $2B of emergency rental assistance, $246M in ESG Cares Funding, 4,517 emergency housing vouchers provided to TX Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), $343,537,510 in HOME-ARPA funding.
      • Fought for the CDC Eviction Moratorium which likely prevented thousands of evictions in Texas and reduced COVID-19 transmission (in effect 9/2020-7/2021 and 8/3/2021-8/26/2021).

2021 Legislative Session

THN leads Texas communities to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. Our vision is that all communities in Texas have a coordinated response system in place to end homelessness. We work on behalf of nearly 1,000 service providers in the state who work day in and day out to end homeless for Texans. 

On any given day, there are more than 27,000 Texans experiencing homelessness in Texas; over 1,200 are families with children. There are over 4,000 children under the age of 18 experiencing homelessness, including nearly 200 that are unaccompanied. Sadly nearly 2,000 Veterans, many with families are also homeless. We can do better for our fellow Texans. 

Although these numbers are high, they represent a 26% reduction in Homelessness since 2011. This is because Texas homeless service providers are implementing proven strategies to reduce and end homelessness. However, these programs need sufficient funding and support to continue this progress.

 

Strengthen Homeless Crisis Response Systems

Homeless Crisis Response Systems, or Continuums of Care, end homelessness through the strategic development of systems based on data-driven solutions. These systems can quickly and efficiently use funding to prevent or divert households out of homelessness. Our priorities for strengthening homeless crisis response systems are:

      • HB 3034 (Campos) – Relates to a study on the establishment of a statewide homelessness data system (the Texas Homeless Data Sharing Network that THN is piloting). Status: HB 3034 was heard in the Senate’s Local Government Committee and was left pending. NOTE: This is the first bill THN authored with a legislator that made it through one of the Texas legislative chambers and consider in committee in the other. In the 88th, THN will again push a bill related to the THDSN.
      • SB 1 & HB 1 – Relating to the continuation of existing funding to the Homeless Housing and Service Program (HHSP) and Health Community Collaboratives (HCC). Status: HHSP was allocated $9.5mil for the biennium. The funding will be used in Texas’ 9 largest cities over 285,500 in population. HCC was allocated $25mil and will be used to promote collaboration between public and private sectors to integrate services for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness and/or substance use disorders

Expand Affordable, Accessible Housing Opportunities

Ending homelessness requires housing. Texas must support the development and rehabilitation of more affordable housing if we want to end homelessness. 

    • SB 265 (West, Eckhardt)/HB 1470 ( Rodriguez, Identical)  – Relating to the prohibition of housing discrimination on the basis of a person’s source of income and to the enforcement of that prohibition. Status: Both bills were referred to committees but never received hearings. These bills would have more impact as they would apply statewide
    • HB 886 (Rosenthal) –  Relating to the repeal of the prohibition against certain municipal or county regulation of the rental or leasing of housing accommodations. Status: Was heard in the Urban Affairs Committee on 4/7/21 and left pending.
    • SB 1565 (Lucio) – Relating to the allocation of low-income housing tax credits. – Status: the bill awaiting a hearing in the Local Government Committee.
    • NOTE: These bills seek to prohibit housing discrimination based on source of income. This means that people attempting to escape homelessness through the use of housing vouchers could obtain any housing they qualify for without barriers. These protections currently exist for Veterans but no other sub-population.

Targeted, intersectional assistance

Recognizing and acting on the disparities particularly affecting people experiencing homelessness/housing insecure folks who are also people of color, LGBTQIA+, immigrants, people with criminal histories, and/or people with disabilities and mental illness. 

      • HB 1196 (Hinojosa, Bernal, Lambert) – Relating to the issuance of a certified birth record, driver’s license, or personal identification certificate to a homeless individual. Status: Bill was voted out of the Urban Affairs Committee on 4/16/21. It was scheduled to be heard by the full house on 5/13/21 but was never read therefore not vote was taken.
      • NOTE: These types of bills have come up each of the last several sessions, expect more in the 88th. THN will support bills such as these because they remove barriers people experiencing homelessness face as they work to become housed.

Other Important Bills We Watched

      • HB 1278(Campos, Bettencourt)  – Relating to public hearings on homelessness issues held by the Texas Interagency Council for the Homeless (calls for one meeting each year to be held in a rural community). Status: It was sent to the Governor and signed into law on 6/18/21.
      • SB 646 (Schwertner, Bettencourt, Buckingham) – Relating to county approval of certain proposed purchases or conversions of properties to house homeless individuals. Status: The bill passed out of the Senate on 4/14/21 and it was considered by the House committee Urban Affairs on 5/20/21 and failed to receive an affirmative vote. HB 1803 (Wilson) was this bill’s companion it did not come to vote for the full House.
      • NOTE: Advocates should keep an eye out for future bills like these to be introduced in future legislative sessions. THN opposes this bill because this bill, if passed, would add more barriers because add additional barriers and allow communities a tool to prevent development of housing and shelter in their communities making NIMBY easier.
      • HB 1925 (Capriglione and others) – Relating to prohibitions on camping in a public place; creating a criminal offense. Status: It was heard on the Senate floor and passed with a 27-4 vote on 5/20/21. The Governor office signed this bill into law on June 15, 2021 effective September 1. NOTE: Guidance for communities wishing to put in place Homeless Individual Camping (HIC) Plans can be found here


Be sure to subscribe to our THN advocacy newsletter to stay informed.

2021 Homelessness Awareness Day

Zoom screenshot of HAD Participants 1

Thanks to advocates from across the state, we had one of the most successful Homelessness Awareness Days in THN’s history. During the Texas legislative session year, THN hosts Homelessness Awareness Day (HAD) at the Capitol. This year, advocates from around the state met virtually on April 7th for a briefing on legislative priorities, followed by meetings with their legislators.

With over 200 registered participants, we doubled in size from the last Texas legislative session in 2019 and almost tripled in size since 2017’s session. Thanks to the efforts of our participants and staff, we are proud to say we educated over half of Texas Senator’s offices and 60 Texas Representative’s offices.

Read more about Homelessness Awareness Day in our recap blog post.

Over the course of 2020, our country and state experienced unprecedented challenges, resilient successes, and shifts toward a better future. In response to the need for reflection on our past and a look toward our future, THN hosted a live event to bring together voices from around our state.

Watch the recording now to hear from politicians to community advocates, to case managers, as they examine the state of homelessness in Texas and the future ahead.

Speakers included, but are not limited to, Beto O’Rourke, Julie Oliver, Rep. William Hurd, Greg Casar, Officer Kyle Moore, Nan Roman, Robert Salas, Eric Samuels, Mayor Anthony Williams, Dr. David Woody, Diane Yentel, and Kristin Zakoor.
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