Using TANF to Support and Improve Efforts to End Family Homelessness


National Alliance to End Homelessness

Solutions Brief | March 29, 2010

Files: PDF | 206 KB | 8 pages

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is an important resource for homeless advocates and planners to be using to help homeless and low-income families. While “TANF” is often used to describe the cash assistance program, states use TANF resources for a host of other supports for low-income families. Many of these supports are also available to families who are not on the cash assistance program. TANF is a critical resource that can be better used to end family homelessness.

After providing a brief background of the TANF program and the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, this brief describes steps local homelessness leaders can take to improve family outcomes and provides examples of how these steps are being implemented in communities across the country.

The steps for improving family outcomes include ways to advocate for your state to tap into the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, including through:

  • Helping states increase their program activity
  • Helping states find matching funds

The paper also examines ways to convince leaders to invest in Housing First, including through:

  • Demonstrating effectiveness and cost-savings
  • Exploring current TANF spending on homelessness
  • Proposing pilots and new initiatives

Lastly, the brief examines ways in which a community can champion improvements in the TANF cash assistance program, such as through:

  • Improving access to TANF cash assistance
  • Improving services to families with multiple barriers to work
  • Engaging TANF directors in the effort to end homelessness
  • Leading