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HUD, VA and USICH Officials Volunteer during Nation’s Homeless Count

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RISMEDIA, February 1, 2011—On Thursday, January 27, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Scott Gould, and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Barbara Poppe, joined volunteers around the nation as they participated in a national count of homeless persons and families as part of HUD’s national Let’s Make Everybody Count! campaign.

For a single night during the last week in January, providers in virtually every community across the country collect “Point in Time” data on the number and demographics of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. A crucial component of Opening Doors—the federal plan to end homelessness—HUD’s Let’s Make Everybody Count! campaign is intended to document trends in homelessness and help local, state and federal partners make effective use of taxpayer resources.

“Each year, we ask volunteers in nearly 4,000 cities and counties across the nation to dedicate one day during the last week of January to count how many men, women and families are confronted with homelessness on a single night,” said Donovan. “Through these efforts, we will have the data needed to understand the scope and breadth of homelessness in America. And this year—for the first time—we can apply that data as part of a coordinated federal plan to end homelessness.”

Secretary Donovan, Deputy Secretary Gould and Director Poppe gave brief remarks to more than 80 volunteers at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., which served as the District of Columbia’s “Point in Time” count volunteer staging location. After the remarks, Donovan, Gould and Poppe served as volunteers in downtown Washington, D.C.

“Secretary Shinseki and I are committed to ending homelessness amongst Veterans by 2015 and this week has been an important step toward achieving this goal,” Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Gould said. “VA is proud to be partnering with HUD and USICH in this important initiative and we look forward to utilizing this data nationwide to pursue opportunities to reach out to homeless Veterans.”

Data gathered from the “Point in Time” counts will be used to effectively allocate funding to HUD’s programs and grantees, as well as measure the nation’s progress on Opening Doors—the federal plan to end homelessness. In June, the Obama Administration announced the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness, titled Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The plan puts the country on a path to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020.

“We have had unprecedented collaboration across federal agencies for this year’s Count to be the most comprehensive ever,” said United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Barbara Poppe. “It is critically important that we have the most complete data possible for all populations in order to effectively target resources and programs.”

HUD is currently directing more than $2.9 billion in homeless funding towards those goals through the recently announced Continuum of Care grants which awarded $1.41 billion to nearly 7,000 local homeless assistance programs operating in the coming year, and $1.5 billion from the new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. HPRP grants have prevented or ended homelessness for more than three quarters of a million people.”

HUD’s homeless assistance grants are reducing long-term or chronic homelessness in America. Based on the Department’s latest homeless assessment, chronic homelessness has dropped by nearly 30% since 2006 due to significant investments to produce thousands of units of permanent supportive housing for those who had been living on the streets. While the total number of homeless persons in America dropped slightly between 2008 and 2009, the number of homeless families increased for the second consecutive year, almost certainly due to the ongoing effects of the recession.

Based on HUD’s 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), volunteers throughout the nation counted 643,000 homeless people during a given night in January 2009. In addition, HUD found that during 2009, 1.54 million people used emergency or transitional housing programs in 2009.

For more information, visit www.hud.gov.

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