Roberta Machin, BA
Did you know that the Community Development Block Grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, serves 5,877 households in Chester County alone? These funds aid the men, women, and children sleeping in homeless shelters or teetering on the brink of homelessness, and support the rehabilitation of our neighborhoods, roads, and homes. In 2017, 2.285 million dollars were allocated for CDBG-funded services within our county. But a 6.2 billion dollar decrease to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was proposed in the 2018 federal budget, including the complete elimination of the Community Development Block Grant.
As a response to these proposed budget cuts, Decade to Doorways hosted a Week of Advocacy and Awareness from August 22nd to 25th. At 5:00 pm on the 22nd, the community came together to kick off this week with a fun event on the front lawn of Uptown Theater in West Chester. Stages Art Initiative performed live music throughout the event, and Giant Food Store provided snacks and desserts. At the Kick-Off, Decade to Doorways provided information about the services funded by these crucial federal dollars, and the traveling photography display “Humanizing Homelessness in Chester County” was exhibited so that attendees could learn more about real people within their own community who have experienced homelessness, and the process of their recovery.
Everyone also had the opportunity at the Kick-Off to fill out a postcard to their legislator, explaining why they personally feel that supportive services and affordable housing programs are beneficial to their community, and urging legislators to vote in support of the preservation of the funds for these programs. Decade to Doorways was able to distribute nearly 1,000 postcards at the event and to staff members at organizations throughout our community that rely on these funds.
On Wednesday the 23rd, Decade to Doorways asked that the whole community take a moment to call their legislators and speak with them about the importance of preserving federal funding for supportive services. Thursday was Email-In Day, and D2D provided information about democracy.io, a website that allows you to easily find contact information for your legislators and email them about specific topics, such as homelessness. Then on Friday, the final day, D2D asked that everyone complete their postcards and mail them in to the members of Congress that represent Chester County.
Although Advocacy Week is over, it’s not too late to voice your opinion! It is critical that we continue to stand up for the people within our community and throughout the country who rely on these federally funded services. You can continue to make your voices heard by visiting, calling, emailing, and writing to your legislators, and educating others on the importance of these programs that aid people on the brink of and experiencing homelessness.