Nearly 50 Mayors Fly in to Meet with White House Officials, Congressional Leaders

Washington, D.C.— This week, a bipartisan group of nearly 50 American mayors from across the country, flew into Washington, DC on a mission to fight for solutions to address the housing and homelessness crisis affecting cities everywhere. The delegation was led by U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) President Reno (NV) Mayor Hillary Schieve, USCM Homelessness Task Force Chair Los Angeles (CA) Mayor Karen Bass, as well as USCM 2nd Vice President Oklahoma City (OK) Mayor David Holt and Toledo (OH) Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, Chair of the USCM Committee on Community Development and Housing. The two-day effort put a spotlight on a major issue identified by U.S. mayors as their top concern for 2024, according to a USCM survey.

On Monday, the delegation had meetings at the White House with top administration officials, who said that President Joe Biden is committed to developing a comprehensive housing program for the country and that he wants mayors to have a significant role in its creation. On Tuesday, the mayors spread out across the U.S. Capitol complex to urge members of Congress, including congressional leadership, to help people get off the streets and on the need for action to drive down housing costs. Solutions promoted by the mayors include expanding veteran eligibility for housing vouchers so that veterans don’t have to choose between their benefits and housing assistance, increasing funding for housing choice vouchers, and raising the cap of project-based vouchers. Mayors also joined a press conference at the Capitol, sponsored by House Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mark Takano.

“This week we saw how powerful the collective voices of American mayors can be,” said USCM President Mayor Schieve. “Cities have made incredible progress bouncing back from the pandemic, but mayors everywhere know that a crisis of affordable housing and homelessness is affecting all our cities. There are many dimensions to this challenge, including mental health, and we made clear to lawmakers and administration officials that solving it will require a comprehensive approach and a robust federal-local partnership. We were particularly encouraged to hear from top White House officials that the president is committed to developing a comprehensive housing program and that they want mayors at the table. We are on the ground and understand our communities better than anyone on what is needed to get more people housed, which is fundamental to economic opportunity in America. The fight for action will continue, but we all leave Washington more confident that our message is being heard and that we will have partners to drive solutions.”

“Americans that fought on behalf of our country, the people who have defended us, should never sleep one night outside on our streets. There are solutions to this crisis – so while we’re fighting day in and day out to get people off the street, we have to bring the fight here to Washington, DC so that we can look at rules and regulations that need to be tossed aside, given the magnitude of the problem that we have today,” said Mayor Bass.

At the White House, mayors met with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Tom Perez, Domestic Policy Advisor to the President Neera Tanden, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young. Mayors also met separately with HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Acting Secretary of HUD Adrianne Todman.

Additional members of Congress who the mayors met with included Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Minority Whip Katherine Clark, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and Senator Ron Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.