The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said on Tuesday that its proposed budget for Fiscal 2017 will include $48.9 billion in gross discretionary funding and $11.3 billion in new mandatory spending over the next 10 years.  HUD said its budget is focused on helping Americans secure and maintain affordable housing, ending homelessness, and making communities more resilient from natural disasters.

Most of the mandatory $11.3 billion spending is dedicated to a 10-year multi-faceted program to reduce homelessness among youth and families. This is an extension of what HUD calls the "first-ever federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness" that was launched six years ago under the title Opening Doors.  Since then HUD says, family homelessness has been reduced by 19 percent nationwide.  Still the annual one-night January count of the homeless this year found more than 64,000 families were without homes, including more than 123,000 children.  Major cities around the country that are in the midst of rental affordability problems are also experiencing significant increases in homelessness.

Under former Secretary Shawn Donovan, HUD espoused a 'home first" approach to homelessness, especially for the chronically homeless. The approach was based on the contention that having permanent shelter and a permanent address first made it easier for social, educational, employment, and health services on the local level to address some of the problems causing or arising out of homelessness rather than trying to first solve the problems and then provide shelter.

A HUD press release says through the work that has been done since the Open Doors Plan's launch, the department knows more about how to achieve that goal than at any other time in our nation's history and that that bipartisan support for proven investments is enabling communities across the country to end homelessness among veterans.  Their research shows that a combination of rapid rehousing and Housing Choice Vouchers offer the necessary range of flexible and cost-effective interventions to move families out of homelessness quickly and into their own permanent housing. Direct access to affordable housing ends homelessness among families with children, while also increasing economic and social well-being for families and children.

The 10-year program is designed to provide over a half million families with assistance and enable communities across the county to end family homelessness by 2020 and then sustain that achievement.  Among the mechanisms for doing this will be a significant expansion of the availability of rapid rehousing and Housing Choice Vouchers and to further solidify partnerships between Public Housing Agencies and Continuums of Care. 

The Budget also includes $10.8 billion for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program, which supports 12 months of funding for rental assistance contracts with public and private owners who maintain affordable rental housing for 1.2 million families, and $6.45 billion in operating and capital subsidies to preserve affordable public housing for 1.1 million families.

The budget also includes funds for 10,000 new housing vouchers for families with children; 25,500 new units of permanent supportive housing to end chronic homelessness, 8,000 new units of rapid rehousing, and $25 million to test innovative projects for youth experiencing homelessness. 

"HUD's proposed budget was built on the values that we uphold as Americans. That our entire nation benefits when our children grow up in a community that's full of promise, not problems," said HUD Secretary Julián Castro.  "When a hard-working family is able to responsibly buy their first-home, put down roots, and build wealth.  When homeless veterans are able to get the housing they need to succeed in the very nation they risked so much to protect.  When every person gets a fair shot and a fair shake to achieve their dreams."