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FY 2014 Appropriations: HUD Homeless Assistance Grants
Federal Policy Brief | September 4, 2013
On a given night, over 633,000 people are homeless in the United States. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal government’s primary response to homelessness, funding proven solutions to the problem. The bipartisan HEARTH Act of 2009 reauthorized the program to increase its emphasis on using outcomes and research to drive programmatic decisions.
The Homeless Assistance Grants appropriations account funds two programs: the competitive Continuum of Care (CoC) program, and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) block grant program. The HEARTH Act consolidated several previous programs into the CoC program, which funds proven interventions like cost-effective permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people. The ESG block grant funds emergency shelter and adds a new focus on the cost-efficient interventions of homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.
Despite the persistently lagging economy and increased housing costs, homelessness actually declined slightly between 2011 and 2012, largely because of a $1.5 billion federal investment in the Recovery Act’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) and a concerted focus on outcome-oriented programs and solutions. Unfortunately, HPRP has expired and the economy has not yet recovered. The economic and demographic indicators of homelessness remain high, and there have been deep cuts to key affordable housing programs at the federal, state, and local levels. Following the expiration of HPRP, sequestration’s cuts to the ESG program are particularly devastating.
As a result, further federal investment is needed to make real progress on homelessness. The HEARTH Act works to address homelessness among families, individuals with disabilities, and others by expanding the emphasis on proven, cost-effective solutions, including: