Ways to Get Involved in Texas Homeless Network's Advocacy
Join us for Homelessness Awareness Day
Each legislative session, Texas Homeless Network brings advocates from around the state to educate lawmakers. This year will be our first year back to in-person at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on February 22, 2023. If you’re looking for a way to make a big impact, this is it! Join us to advocate for affordable housing, homeless crisis system response support, and intersectional assistance to those who are most likely to experience homelessness.
We need your help to effect change so that we can make homelessness a rare, brief, and one-time event for Texans. This is our chance to make our voices heard and to give voice to the 25,000 Texans experiencing homelessness
Texas State Legislative Session Policy Priorities & Bills We're Following
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.
Over the past year, at least 86,000 Texans experienced homelessness. This includes over 23,000 heads of households and their children. There are over 13,500 children under the age of 18 experiencing homelessness, including nearly 1,600 that are unaccompanied. Sadly, 3,479 Veterans, many with families, are also homeless. We can do better for our fellow Texans.
Our Policy Priorities
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:
- Budget Rider Items:
- Expansion of Supportive Housing Rental Assistance Program (Walle) – Proposal to allocate an additional $12 million in GR to bolster the Supportive Housing Rental Assistance Program (SHR), a recommendation that was recently adopted by the Behavioral Health Advisory Committee (BHAC).
- Texas Homeless Data Sharing Network (THDSN) Expansion (Walle) – Proposal to fund the ongoing operation of the THDSN and expand its utility to serve households in need by providing financial assistance to participating homeless response systems to set up real-time data exchanges with the network.
- Bill Number not yet Assigned (Walle) –Texas Tenant Readiness and Landlord Incentive Program – Proposed pilot project that dedicates $1mil each year for four years to providing up to $3,500 to cover costs required (landlord incentive, back payment of utility bills, etc) to ensure households with vouchers receiving housing.
- HB 913 (Campos) – Relates to a study on the establishment of a statewide homelessness data system (the Texas Homeless Data Sharing Network (THDSN) that THN is piloting). NOTE: This is the same bill language as last session THN staff is providing edits to the Representative’s office so this bill’s language corresponds to the budget rider above.
- HB 834 (Campos) – Relating to the establishment by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs of a pilot program to solicit donations made by text message for the benefit of local programs that provide services to homeless individuals and families in certain municipalities.t
- SB 1 & HB 1 – Relating to the continuation of existing funding to the Homeless Housing and Service Program (HHSP) and Health Community Collaboratives (HCC).
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.
- Bill Number not yet Assigned (Goodwin) –Texas Community College Student Housing Stability Assistance Pilot – Relating to allocating funding to community college student support specialist programs to provide assistance to help students prevent or end their homelessness.
- SB 199 (Eckhardt) – Relating to requirements for beneficial tax treatment related to a leasehold or other possessory interest in a public facility used to provide multifamily housing.
- SB 202 (Eckhardt) – Relating to prohibiting an increase in the rent before the end of a lease term of a tenant residing in a development supported with a low-income housing tax credit allocation.
- HB 1193 (Turner) – Relating to prohibiting housing discrimination by a property owners’ association against a residential tenant based on the tenant’s method of payment.
- HB 1148 (Rosenthal) – Relating to the repeal of the prohibition against certain municipal or county regulation of the rental or leasing of housing accommodations.
- Advocacy on use of remaining ARPA funding: Texas homeless network and our colleagues support a proposal to provide $1.5 bil in Emergency Rental Assistance, $10 mil in Landlord Incentive Payment Program, $50 mil to hire housing stability specialists to work throughout the state where families are most at-risk of eviction or a loss of housing, and $20 million to produce more Supportive Housing Rental Assistance that our LMHAs can use to assist our most vulnerable neighbors suffering with serious mental illness.
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 965 (Allen) – Relating to post-release housing for inmates released on parole or to mandatory supervision.
- HB 1677 (Allen) – Relating to the issuance of a certified birth record, driver’s license, or personal identification certificate to a homeless individual. 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.
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 2023. Read our 2022 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:
- Send a message here to urge your members of Congress to ensure any reconciliation package includes robust, affordable housing investments targeted to people with the greatest needs.
- Add your organization to NLIHC’s HoUSed campaign
- The HoUSed campaign seeks to provide universal, stable, and affordable housing for the most oppressed and low-income people.
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.
Past Public Statements on HUD Proposed Changes
Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Academy
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.
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 Homelessness Awareness Day
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.
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.
Current COVID-19 Advocacy:
Current COVID-19 Response:
- THN continues to update our COVID-19 page for agency and individual resources, including emergency rent relief oppportunities.
- Since 2020, THN has signed on to nearly two dozen national petitions demanding Congress for housing and homelessness support related to COVID-19 recovery. We urge you to add your organization to NLIHC’s current list of calls to action.
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:
- Black and brown communities are overrepresented in Texas homeless populations, low-income renters, and COVID-19 diagnoses.
- The Texas Legislature defunded the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities in 2017, which could have helped to address racial disparities in COVID diagnosis and complications.
- Black and Brown households are the most severely rent-burdened in Texas and stand to lose the most after the expiration of the statewide eviction moratorium on May 18.
- Nationwide 33% of COVID-related hospitalizations and 25% of the deaths where the race is known are black individuals, making them nearly twice as likely to die from COVID than any other population.
- 64% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in Austin this month are Latinos despite being 34% of the population.
- Navajo Nation is among the hardest hit per capita with over 3,200 positive cases, 100+ deaths, and a spiking rate of deaths by suicide.
- Communities of color are overrepresented in blue-collar “essential” work leading to a higher chance of contracting the virus and have less access to ongoing and preventative healthcare to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
- Individuals experiencing homelessness are having a difficult time collecting their economic impact stimulus checks if they are eligible at all due to income requirements, legal documentation requirements, and the exclusion of sex work.