RISMEDIA, February 23, 2009-Hundreds of thousands of homeless individuals and families will find a stable home and be offered critically needed services as a result of nearly $1.6 billion in homeless assistance announced by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. Late last week, President Obama also signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law, which will provide an additional $1.5 billion in funding for homeless prevention.
The grants announced are being awarded through HUD’s Continuum of Care programs and will assist approximately 6,300 local homeless assistance projects throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“With the foreclosure and unemployment crisis looming, millions of families – both homeowners and renters – are in danger of losing their homes so we must focus substantial resources to help those families find stable housing,” said Donovan. “The grants being awarded today, along with the recovery plan’s additional $1.5 billion, will offer a critical lifeline to those persons and families who, after a foreclosure or job loss, might otherwise be faced with homelessness. Today we are announcing an unprecedented commitment to fund programs that have a proven track record of providing real housing solutions for our most vulnerable neighbors.”
HUD is awarding $24 million to create new pilot programs in 23 local communities to rapidly rehouse homeless families with children, which will be critical during these difficult economic times. These local pilot programs will become the basis of a significantly expanded $1.5 billion federal effort, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to offer quick housing assistance to homeless families and to prevent homelessness among those facing a sudden economic crisis.
The additional funding provided in the recovery plan is a dramatic increase in funding to support local programs to keep persons and families from becoming homeless, including the large number of low-income renters who are at high-risk of becoming homeless because their landlords’ properties are foreclosed upon.
This funding will have an immediate impact by offering these families short-term rental assistance, housing relocation, or security and utility deposits.
HUD’s homelessness grants have made a measureable difference in reducing long-term or chronic homelessness in America. Based on the Department’s latest homeless assessment, chronic homelessness has declined an average of 15% annually from 2005 to 2007. This decline is directly attributed to HUD’s homeless grants helping to create significantly more permanent housing for those who might otherwise be living on the streets.
HUD’s funding is provided in two ways:
– Continuum of Care Grants provide permanent and transitional housing to homeless persons. In addition, Continuum grants fund important services including job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care. More than $1.5 billion in Continuum of Care grants are awarded competitively to local programs to meet the needs of their homeless clients. Continuum grants fund a wide variety of programs from street outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons and families. Half of all Continuum funding awarded today, more than $783 million, will support new and existing programs that help to pay rent and provide permanent housing for disabled homeless individuals and their families.
– Emergency Shelter Grants provide funds for the operation of local shelters and fund related social service and homeless prevention programs. HUD is awarding $160 million in Emergency Shelter Grants that are allocated based on a formula to state and local governments to create, improve and operate emergency shelters for homeless persons. These funds may also support essential services including job training, health care, drug/alcohol treatment, childcare and homelessness prevention activities. By helping to support emergency shelter, transitional housing and needed support services, Emergency Shelter Grants are designed to move homeless persons away from a life on the street toward permanent housing.
This year, HUD is transitioning away from a paper-based application process to a new electronic grant submission process called e-snaps. This new electronic system allows applicants to store their submissions as they work on them and significantly reduces the time it takes HUD staff to review these applications. It also saves considerable effort by avoiding burdensome and time-consuming data entry. In the end, e-snaps will streamline and accelerate the process of awarding HUD grant to local homeless programs across the country.