A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Philanthropy Serving Organizations to Congress: Now Is the Time to Act on This Collective Opportunity to End Housing Instability

Funders Together to End Homelessness, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, United Philanthropy Forum, and Women's Funding Network, came together to send the following letter to Congress urging elected federal leaders to enact the housing investments in the Build Back Better Act. 

Dear Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Schumer: 

As philanthropy member organizations that represent more than 7,000 foundations from across the country, we write to urge Congress to enact the housing investments in President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, including $90 billion to expand rental assistance to 1 million more households, $80 billion to preserve public housing for more than 2.5 million residents, and $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and rehabilitate 330,000 apartments affordable to the lowest-income people. 

The House Financial Services Committee approval of $327 billion in housing investments through the Build Back Better Act gives us a real opportunity at everyone having a safe and affordable place to call home and a pathway to racial justice. We cannot fulfill the Administration’s commitments to advance racial equity without addressing our nation’s housing crisis.  

There is a strong focus on our country’s infrastructure and the vast need to both repair our current bridges and roads while constructing new ones to connect communities to each other to grow opportunity and prosperity. But without safe, accessible, and affordable housing, our roads and bridges are just mere concrete paths to empty promises. Housing is infrastructure. Housing saves lives.  

The need cannot be overstated. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that more than 11 million renters are behind on rent, in part because of the lack of affordable housing options for those with extremely low incomes. We are also witnessing an increase in people experiencing homelessness on a single night, a population overrepresented by people of color. In fact, last year homelessness increased in more states than it decreased in, and we are bracing for this to only worsen as we navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Philanthropy, on its own, is unable to resource this need. It takes robust and sustained investments to move us, the size of which the private sector does not have. Private philanthropy cannot be a substitute for the federal government. Without bold federal funds, foundation grantmaking simply puts a band-aid on the inequities that are created and perpetuated by bad policy, which is unsustainable and ineffective. 

In 2020, philanthropy gave nearly $2.2 billion towards housing and homelessness programs and services, according to Candid, which is $324.8 billion less than what is being proposed in the Build Back Better Act. Not only are those kinds of resources not available from philanthropy, if we even attempted to meet that need, it would take away funds from other housing focused programs and services, setting up conditions for another crisis to evolve that would once again require federal investment to address.  

The $327 billion allocated for housing would provide a path to achieve housing justice and start an overdue journey towards racial healing and justice. For example, through the $75 billion investment in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, around 1.7 million people, including 660,000 children, 180,000 seniors, and 330,000 people with disabilities, would be able to afford stable housing. This investment would help our nation live up to the commitment to advance racial equity as more than 70 percent of those who would receive this assistance would be people of color, helping to reduce racial disparities caused by decades of systemic racism and intentional underinvestment. 

Outcomes of this magnitude cannot be reached with only private dollars at the helm, which is why this funding in the Build Back Better Act is so imperative. Now is the time to act on this collective opportunity to end housing instability in this country. 


In partnership,  

Funders Together to End Homelessness
Funders for LGBTQ Issues
United Philanthropy Forum
Women’s Funding Network


View the PDF version here.

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  • Lauren Bennett
    published this page in Blog 2021-10-22 12:40:15 -0400

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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