Sunday, August 20, 2006

8 days and Counting (couldn't avoid the pun!)

Some have asked me why I agreed to this homeless count. Why have I overburdened myself, why have I let it consume me?

Because it's my ministry. Because God spoke to me, rather loudly I might add; I knew that a temporary campaign like this would be the beginning of my life's work. With it, I can share ministering to the poor with my children, my church - who says they want to be more of a presence in the community, other churches who have their eyes opened- they just aren't focused yet....and many

Those are some of the spiritual reasons. Which abound, much further than what is mentioned above.

And there are the political, fiscal reasons.

$16 million dollars came into the state of Colorado last year thru HUD SuperNOFA programs. This is a national competition, unlike entitlement programs such as CDBG, ESG, etc., and the folks at the State told us that the three sources of SuperNOFA funds in CO almost didn't get anything. Yeah, 2-3 points on each of the three applications would have lost a vital funding source.

This count could help us become more secure in SuperNOFA applications....which is critical, because:

1 - CDBG, a federal source of funding primarily for housing and homeless services, has been on the federal chopping block at the presidential level since January 2005, when Bush proposed his budget for FY 2006. Congress blocked his proposal to consolidate with 17 other programs, whittle the budget to less than what CDBG was alone then, and whisk it over to the Department of Commerce for program administration. However, cuts have continually eroded CDBG awards nation wide these past two years.

2 - our local governments are having recessed sales tax revenues, which means hard budget decisions. If we secure NOFA funds, it will take some of the pressure of the local municipalities, and allow for better prioritization.

3 - Colorado passed a TABOR amendment to the state constitution in 1990. It's a complicated budgeting tool, but basically eradicated several human services programs, or all but eradicated in some instances because of a recession in tax revenues. The state voters passed a referendum last year to bypass some of the strict measures and allow for some reinstatement of vital programs - however, as a state, we're still rebuilding, and thus, federal funds are imperative for humanitarian aid to our state's impoverished citizens.

4 - a lot of our government programs are band-aids, and not getting to the heart of the matter if you would ask most service providers, but the data to back those claims are anecdotal at best. This count will serve to address that question. For instance, if 92% of all Colorado homeless women are victims of domestic violence, wouldn't it make sense to get some preventive programs with the boys at risk of becoming abusers? Prevention may be costly at start-up, but in the end, crisis prevention is generally more cost-effective than crisis intervention.

I could go on, but it's late. And 8 is about to become 7 days.....

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