SSBG Coalition Letter to Capitol Hill, December 2008
The Social Services Block Grant Coalition
December 17, 2008
Organizations in Support of Human Services
Dear Member of Congress:
To help low-income families, children, older adults, and persons with disabilities cope with the effects of the worsening economy, we strongly urge you to include an additional $1.1 billion of funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), for a total of $2.8 billion, as part of the economic recovery package to help providers, communities, and states deliver critical human services. SSBG, a vital tool in the nation's economic arsenal, has state and local infrastructure already in place to quickly pass through these funds and provides a financial reporting mechanism for states to outline how funding across 29 programs will be allocated.
We are a coalition of diverse groups, including many associations of state and local governments, faith-based and professional organizations, unions, and non-profit groups representing the interests of children, older adults, people with disabilities, and vulnerable families. We firmly believe that SSBG can provide funding in ways that are immediate, can protect current jobs, and assist state and local governments in addressing the escalating human costs of this recession.
During these challenging times, the need for services provided with SSBG funds is growing. In surveys conducted by members of the SSBG Coalition:
As the recession continues, so will the demand for these services.
- over 70 percent of the local agencies of some charitable organizations reported experiencing increased requests for mortgage, rental, or temporary housing assistance;
- 77 percent recorded an increase in requests for food assistance; and
- 85 percent of states are experiencing increased requests for transportation services and home delivered meals, according to some reports.
At the same time needs are increasing, the infrastructure and capacity needed to deliver these critical services may be decreasing. According to Professor Paul C. Light in a recent Washington Post article, up to 100,000 non-profit organizations and charities that provide needed services such as food pantries, job training and support, shelters for homeless families, and other supports could close their doors during this recession. Similarly, major cities and counties that have carefully kept their budgets and priorities balanced over the past several years are facing their fourth round of cuts in human services programs affecting health care, protective services, home-based care, and other critical programs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 41 states are facing budget shortfalls this year and/or next, and 25 states have already enacted cuts to vital services including programs that help children, older adults, and persons with disabilities. The consequences include substantial staff reductions and cutbacks in critical public human services when they are most needed. The budget cuts to state and local governments and non-profits will also result in lost jobs and further erosion of our country's economic base.
While much of the focus has been on the failures of banks and businesses, the ripple effect that occurs when foundations and charitable trusts of these same failed institutions no longer support community programs and services has received less attention. As the failures mount, so does pressure on the bedrock system of non-profit organizations and state and local governments throughout the country.
In a deteriorating economy, low-income families, children, older adults, and persons with disabilities need the programs and services SSBG supports. We look forward to working with you to include $2.8 billion in SSBG funding in the economic recovery package and appreciate your leadership in helping providers respond to the needs of vulnerable individuals and families in their communities.
The Social Services Block Grant Coalition
SSBG COALITION,(The Social Services Block Grant Coalition) c/o Wendy Heiges, Generations United, 202-289-3979; John Sciamanna, Child Welfare League of America, 703-412-2400; Courtney Holden, American Public Human Services Association, 202-682-0100.
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