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RISMEDIA, September 23, 2010—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is making available $1.68 billion in homeless assistance grants to thousands of local projects that house and serve homeless persons and families across the country. In its funding announcement, HUD notified applicants that it will rapidly award renewal grants to prevent interruption in federal assistance to existing local programs while awarding funds to new projects later in the year.

“The Obama Administration is committed to ending the preventable tragedy of homelessness and this funding will advance the goals of the historic national strategic federal plan to prevent and end homelessness, “said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “HUD and its partners at the national and local level are doing a better job sheltering those who might otherwise be living on our streets, but clearly there is more to do. Homelessness is impacting our veterans and more and more families with children. That’s why you will see special emphasis on those areas with this funding.”

On June 22, the lead Cabinet secretaries from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) submitted to the President and Congress the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. The full report is titled Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. It serves as a roadmap for joint action by the 19 USICH member agencies along with local and state partners in the public and private sectors.

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. The Plan presents strategies building upon the lesson that mainstream housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness.

HUD’s official Notice of Funding Availability offers grants through the Department’s Continuum of Care (CoC) homeless assistance programs. HUD is requiring all grant applications to be submitted through its Web-based e-snaps system (electronic-special needs assistance programs system). The Department continues to refine e-snaps to ensure applicants can access a more user-friendly submission portal and to accelerate the grant awarding process.

Several changes and special interest areas in the new NOFA include:
-Creating new permanent housing beds for disabled veterans is a HUD priority, and CoCs are encouraged to use at least a portion of available bonus funds that will be available during this funding cycle to create a project that will serve disabled veterans;
-CoCs will be required to demonstrate that they are collaborating with local education agencies to assist in the identification of homeless families as well as informing the homeless families and children they assist of their eligibility for education services available for homeless children and youth;
-Project applicants be required to demonstrate that they are considering the educational needs of children when families are placed in emergency or transitional shelter and to the maximum extent practicable, place families with children as close as possible to their school of origin so as not to disrupt the children’s education;
-In 2010, the definition of chronically homeless person has been expanded beyond individuals to include eligible families with children. Chronically homeless individuals and families are also a priority group for bonus funding in the competition.
-To achieve greater geographic diversity, HUD will give added selection priority to projects located in rural areas.

Last year, HUD allocated an additional $1.5 billion through its new Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program. That program has so far helped prevent and end homelessness for well over a half million people. Later that same year, HUD provided an additional $1.43 billion in homeless assistance grants to thousands of local projects that house and serve homeless persons and families across the country.

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