Find out about our 2021 Policy Priorities, the latest on COVID-19, & more.
Find out about our 2021 Policy Priorities, the latest on COVID-19, & more.
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February 25, 2021 | Volume 25, No. 2 | Archives
Achieving Equity Means Taking Action
While COVID-19 death rates took a turn for the better this month, winter storms in Texas and across the nation remind us that people experiencing homelessness suffer disproportionately and face long-term consequences when disasters hit. The Council continues to work to support our network of front-line providers caring for people without homes in these trying times.
As part of this work, we are proud to announce Bobby Watts, our Chief Executive Officer, as one of the 12 appointed leaders to the Biden-Harris Administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Congratulations Bobby! This is an important opportunity to elevate housing status as part of the national conversation on health equity. (Read Bobby's statement.)
*New* 2021 Policy Priorities
The Council works with Congress and the Administration to advocate for policies that achieve social, economic, and racial justice. While we broadly advocate on many issues together with our national partners, the 2021 policy priority statement outlines the four primary areas of our focus in 2021:1) Improving the Health Care System; 2) Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19; 3) Increasing Access to Substance Use Treatment; and 4) Advancing Medical Respite/Recuperative Care. 
Vaccines, Vaccines, Vaccines!
Even as vaccination rates increase across the country, states still struggle with dependable supply and getting vaccines to Black, indigenous, and people of color.  Through this, the Council encourages the HCH Community to Take Action by working with state and local officials to prioritize people experiencing homelessness for the vaccine because they are a vulnerable risk group in alignment with CDC recommendations. Find lots of action steps in our Issue Brief: Vaccines for Patients and Staff and sign on to our state-level advocacy letter that outlines how states can more equitably get vaccines to people who are homeless. Get more of the latest news and resources on vaccines in our bi-weekly COVID-19 Flash Blast. 
TAKE ACTION: Local and national organizations are invited to sign our letter (read the letter) about the inequities in vaccine prioritization and state-level policy decisions that are blocking access. This letter is aimed at Governors and state/local health departments. If you’re not authorized to sign-on for your organization, forward this email to someone able to do so in your agency!

Exemplary Local Advocacy! In partnership with the Mayor of Denver and many other local groups, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), is advocating for the state of Colorado to prioritize people experiencing homelessness in vaccine distribution. While the Governor denies their requests, the CCH, the Mayor, and other advocates persist. See an op-ed from Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in the Colorado Sun. Keep up the great work, Denver!
Congress Moves on COVID-19 Relief
Congress is moving forward on enacting President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Proposal. To avoid a filibuster, Democrats are pushing this relief forward through the budget reconciliation process. (See below what this means for the eviction moratorium.) The bill includes major expansions of health care and housing measures (see our summary of key provisions) and is expected to pass in the House later this week and then move on to the Senate for amendments and voting on the floor. Advocates must keep up the drumbeat to make sure this package gets through to a final vote.
After COVID-19 relief passes, Congress is expected to begin work on issues such as racial justice, opioids and addiction, and Medicare-for-All. Look for ways to Take Action on these and other Council policy priorities in future Mobilizers.
TAKE ACTION: Send a letter to Congress using this easy-to-use portal asking your member to pass Biden’s American Rescue Plan, customize your letter by highlighting pieces from our summary of key provisions that you want to see in a final package.
Eviction Moratorium Extended Through March
The CDC announced an extension of the eviction moratorium through March 31. It is unlikely Congress will pass an extension as part of their COVID-19 relief efforts because it is not permissible through the budget reconciliation process. The Council joined hundreds of organizations calling for the Biden administration to extend and improve the moratorium through the end of the pandemic and will report on other opportunities to advocate in future Mobilizers. In the meantime, prevent client evictions by assisting clients in filling out the required signed declaration.
The Biden Administration's COVID-19 Plan
The Biden Administration released the 200-page National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. The plan includes 10 Executive Orders aiming to increase access to testing supplies and vaccines, protect the workforce, and ensure an equitable pandemic response and recovery. It focuses on expanding access to vaccines while also ensuring that distribution prioritizes those most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19. See the Council’s “cheat sheet” summary document that gives the highlights of what’s important for the HCH community, along with actions to maximize these opportunities.
The Past and Future of Medicaid
Over the last four years, the Trump administration and Congress led numerous attacks against Medicaid (throwback to the battles of 2017 and 2019). The Biden administration signaled they will work to reverse these actions, including the undoing of dangerous work requirements and a push for states to expand Medicaid. This month, Biden appointed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to lead the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Brooks-LaSure is a former Obama-era health official with a career history of advocating for equity measures and coverage expansions through Medicaid. We look forward to working with a CMS leader dedicated to expanding access to coverage and improving health.
Trump-Appointed Homeless Czar Leaves
Last week, Robert G. Marbut left his role as the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). Before joining USICH, Marbut designed the Safe Harbor homeless shelter facility in St. Petersburg, FL, which was profiled in a report to the UN Committee Against Torture. The USICH coordinates the federal response to homelessness, and the Council encourages the Biden administration to appoint an Executive Director who understands housing as health care and both as human rights.
What We're Reading
2021 Virtual Conference
Join us at the virtual 2021 National HCH Conference & Policy Symposium on May 10-14, 2021. Whether you’re interested in exploring racial equity or medical respite/recuperative care, harm reduction or trauma-informed care, we hope you will join us as we unite to explore the future of homeless health care and real solutions to homelessness. Note, the Council is providing subsidies to support attendance for people with the experience of homelessness.
Did you receive Mobilizer as a forwarded email or hear about it via social media? Register now to receive our action alerts each month!
Sign Up for Mobilizer
Regina Reed, MPH
Health Policy Manager
National HCH Council
Baltimore, MD
(443) 703-1337 
This publication and all HCH advocacy are funded by dues from Organizational Members of the Council and by private donations. Consider joining the Council to support this work.
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