National Alliance to End Homelessness
Federal Policy Brief | February 25, 2009
Additional American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Homelessness Resources
Updated March 13, 2009
On February 17, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) into law. This nearly $800 billion economic recovery bill includes a landmark $1.5 billion for homelessness prevention and re-housing activities. However, the legislation also includes a number of other funding streams that can be useful to communities working to prevent and end homelessness. The sections below provide basic information and helpful resources on many of the programs that can benefit homeless people and received funding in ARRA.
There are several general resources that may also be useful for communities trying to fully utilize these funds. For example, the Obama Administration has created a special website (http://www.recovery.gov) dedicated to tracking the use of the funds from ARRA. The website for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (http://www.hud.gov) has many pages devoted to specific HUD programs that include program overviews, guidelines, toolkits, and frequently asked questions, among other resources. For those interested in contacting their local HUD office, there is a page devoted to contact information for local HUD offices (http://www.hud.gov/localoffices.cfm).
In addition to these general resources, there are many program-specific resources that provide detailed information about individual programs.
Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (EHCY)
How much is included? $70 million
What is it? EHCY is operated by the Department of Education, and it aims to ensure that homeless children are able to enroll in, attend, and succeed in school.
Who should I contact? States distribute money to local school districts, so contact your school district for more information.
What are the eligible activities? EHCY provides activities and services for homeless children (including those that are preschool-aged) and youth that enable them to enroll in, attend, and succeed in school (or preschool programs). This includes funding for children’s transportation, tutoring, and school supplies. It can also cover counseling, domestic violence services, and health referral services, or other emergency assistance needed to enable homeless children and youth to attend school. The program also establishes liaisons between shelters and schools to make sure the educational needs of homeless children and youth are met.
Where can I find more information? The SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro provides some great resources at http://www.serve.org/nche/m-v.php, as does the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ed.gov/programs/homeless/index.html.
Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)
How much is included? $100 million
What is it? EFSP is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It distributes federal funds to local communities for homelessness prevention by offering one-time monetary grants to families whose short-term crisis places them at risk of becoming homeless.
Who should I contact? EFSP funds are distributed under the supervision of local boards, comprised of nonprofit, faith-based, and community agencies active in antipoverty work. If you don’t know where to find your local board, contact the EFSP National Board at (703) 706-9660 or http://www.efsp.unitedway.org/efsp/pages/email.htm.
What are the eligible activities? EFSP funds can pay for one month’s rent, mortgage, and/or utility payments. The program can also pay for food, in the form of served meals or groceries, lodging in a shelter or hotel, or transportation costs associated with the provision of food and shelter.
Where can I find more information? The website for the EFSP National Board Program (http://www.efsp.unitedway.org/) contains a great overview of the program, a technical assistance manual, and numerous other resources.
Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP)
How much is included? $2 billion
What is it? NSP, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program, provides emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight within their communities.
Who should I contact? States, cities, and counties get these funds. Determine whether your urban county or city has received funding, another county or city is partnering with your city or county, or if the state has received funding. Contact your local HUD office for more details.
What are the eligible activities? NSP funds can be used to establish financing mechanisms for the purpose and redevelopment of foreclosed homes and residential properties and to purchase and rehabilitate abandoned or foreclosed homes and residential properties. Other eligible activities include establishing land banks for foreclosed homes, demolishing blighted structures, and redeveloping demolished or vacant properties. NSP funds must be used for activities benefiting households with incomes at or below 120 percent of area median income (AMI). At least 25 percent of the funding must be used to provide housing, including permanent supportive housing, to people below 50 percent of area median income.
Where can I find more information? The NSP page on HUD’s website includes links to fact sheets, FAQs, and other resources:
Transitional Housing Assistance Grants
How much is included? $50 million
What is it? This Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) program provides Transitional Housing Assistance Grants to help victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking who are in need of transitional housing, short-term housing assistance, and related support services.
Who should I contact? OVW gives these funds to states, local governments, and nonprofit or community-based organizations with a history of effective work on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Check with local domestic violence organizations to find out if they have received a grant. You can also contact OVW for more information at 202.307.6026.
What are the eligible activities? These grants provide direct assistance for short-term housing-related costs, including rent, security deposits, and utilities, operational expenses to manage transitional housing programs, and support services, such as childcare, transportation and counseling.
Where can I find more information? The OVW website has a page devoted to this program: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/thousing_grant_desc.htm. You can also view the request for applications at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/docs/recovery-transitional-housing-asst.pdf.
Native American Housing Block Grants
How much is included? $510 million
What is it? This HUD program provides a single block grant to Native American tribes for federal housing assistance.
Who should I contact? Contact the local tribally designated housing entity for more information.
What are the eligible activities? Affordable housing activities must develop or support rental or ownership housing or provide housing services to benefit low-income Indian families on Indian reservations and other Indian areas. Eligible activities include modernization or operating assistance for housing previously developed using HUD resources; acquisition, new construction, or rehabilitation of additional units; housing-related services; housing management services; crime prevention and safety activities; and rental assistance.
Where can I find more information? HUD’s webpage on the Indian Housing Block Grants (http://www.hud.gov/progdesc/ihbg1208.cfm) provides additional details and resources for these grants.
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
How much is included? $1 billion
What is it? This flexible HUD program provides communities with resources to ensure decent affordable housing, provide services to the most vulnerable, and create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses.
Who should I contact? Contact your local HUD office more details.
What are the eligible activities? At least 70 percent of CDBG funds must benefit low- and moderate-income people. Funds are used to prevent or eliminate slums or blight, address community development needs that have a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community, or benefit low- or moderate-income people.
Where can I find more information? HUD’s CDBG website has plenty of resources for those interested in utilizing CDBG funds:
Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
How much is included? $1 billion
What is it? The CSBG program falls under the direction of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). It provides funds to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities by providing a range of services and activities to assist the needs of low-income individuals, including the homeless.
Who should I contact? Your state CSBG program contact (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/csbg/grantees/state_Officials.html) will have additional information about the distribution of CSBG funds in your state. Individuals and families can find a local Community Action Agency or service provider likely to receive these funds at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/csbg/documents/8c.html.
What are the eligible activities? Grantees receiving funds under the CSBG program are required to provide services and activities addressing employment, education, better use of available income, housing, nutrition, emergency services, or health. Beneficiaries must be low-income individuals that may be unemployed or receiving public assistance, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), at-risk youth, custodial and non-custodial parents, residents of public housing, persons with disabilities, persons who are homeless, and individuals transitioning from incarceration into the community.
Where can I find more information? The ACF website has a series of pages devoted to CSBG funds: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/csbg/. The National Association for State Community Services Programs also has a page with numerous CSBG resources: http://www.nascsp.org/csbg.htm.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund
How much is included? Up to $5 billion.
What is it? States will be eligible to receive up to 50 percent of their annual TANF allocation over the course of 2009 and 2010. The TANF Emergency Contingency Fund can be used to reimburse states for up to 80 percent of increased expenditures in the state TANF program due to more families requiring assistance because of the recession.
Who should I contact? Your state TANF agency will receive these funds, so contact that agency for more information.
What are the eligible activities? States may be reimbursed for increased expenditures for providing basic assistance (cash grants to low income families), non-recurrent, short-term payments (up to four months of rental assistance for homeless families, security deposit and first month’s rent, or utility assistance), and subsidized employment.
Where can I find more information? The Administration for Children and Families has a site devoted to TANF: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/tanf/index.html. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has put together of a number of publications on TANF, which can be found at http://www.cbpp.org/pubs/tanf.htm.
Workforce Investment Act Programs
How much is included? $3.95 billion. This includes $500 million for supportive services and needs-related payments for unemployed workers not eligible for unemployment insurance, $1.2 billion for jobs programs for youth, and $1.25 billion for jobs programs for “dislocated workers.”
What is it? This Department of Labor program was designed to help Americans get back to work. The funding under the economic recovery act will be used to increase service levels and address immediate employment needs by targeting significant funding toward low-income, low-skilled Americans, including youth.
Who should I contact? Contact your state workforce agency for more information about how much funding is available in your state and how you might get involved. Individuals interested in accessing services or job resources should visit http://careeronestop.org/ and http://www.servicelocator.org/.
What are the eligible activities? This funding will help States fund employment and training activities for adults, youth, and dislocated workers. The fund can also pay for the dislocated worker assistance national reserve, Wagner-Peyser activities (including reemployment services for unemployment insurance claimants), YouthBuild activities, and worker training and placement in high growth and emerging industry sectors (including projects that prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy).
Where can I find more information? The Department of Labor has several sets of resources dedicated to the workforce investment act programs. They can be found at http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?docn=2717 and http://www.doleta.gov/USWORKFORCE/WIA/act.cfm.