NLIHC State Coalition Partner, the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness (NMCEH), is celebrating a significant victory in its effort to secure a funding increase for homeless programs in the state budget. On March 12, Governor Susana Martinez (R) signed the state appropriations bill that included a $290,000 increase for Housing Stability Performance Awards. During the 2013 State Legislative Session, advocates were able to secure an increase of $200,000 for rapid re-housing services (see Memo, 3/29/13). Together, these consecutive victories represent a 50% increase over homeless program allocation levels in previous years. Advocates applaud state leaders for their decision to continue investing in strong solutions to end homelessness.
NMCEH made increased funding for Housing Stability Performance Awards its main legislative priority for the 2014 legislative session, with the hope of surpassing the funding increase for the housing stability performance awards reached last year. The awards help pay for services associated with Continuum of Care-funded permanent and transitional supportive housing programs. According to advocates, the supportive housing programs have been a consistently effective tool for decreasing homelessness in the state. This is verified by a 2012-2013 study conducted by the City of Albuquerque that reviewed the cost effectiveness of a city-funded permanent supportive housing program. After comparing the cost of expensive public resources used by people before they were housed to the cost after becoming housed, researchers found that the costs associated with the latter group decreased significantly—emergency care by 13%, corrections by 64%, and outpatient medical care by 39%— after homeless individuals and families entered the program.
The report also highlighted the Permanent Supportive Housing program’s 92% retention rate, and indicated that 71% of all transitional housing clients moved to permanent housing after completing the program. Advocates view the success rates as indications of the programs’ ability to help people with barriers to housing stabilize their lives.
NMCEH mobilized 80 advocates during its annual Lobby Day in January in an effort to lay the groundwork with legislators to support a $1,000,000 increase for the Performance Awards. Days later, advocates shifted their focus to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee to get their request included in the initial draft of the state appropriations bill. In February, the House passed the bill, with the $290,000 increase for homeless programs. Although significantly less than requested, advocates were pleased with the chamber’s inclusion of the funds, which was also categorized as recurring funding, meaning the total will be a threshold amount for future budget cycles.
NMCEH and its allies flooded the Senate Finance Committee with calls and emails requesting the increase be kept in the Senate bill and urged legislators to add an additional $200,000 in homeless services funding for an increase total of $490,000. The Senate did not include the $200,000 increase, but approved the amount passed by the House.
“Our successes this year and last are due to the strong advocacy of our members, who effectively conveyed to their legislators that we need to invest in proven solutions to address homelessness,” said Lisa Huval, NMCEH’s policy and advocacy director.
For more information contact, Lisa Huval, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, at firstname.lastname@example.org.