In a telephone press conference this afternoon U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan awarded more than $216 million to nearly 700 homeless programs that have never received HUD homelessness funding. The awards are expected to provide services ranging from emergency shelter to transitional housing as well as supportive services for 21,000 persons nationwide.  The Secretary said that the awards come in the midst of a remarkable period during which homelessness has been ended for over 900,000 Americans.

HUD's Continuum of Care grants fund transitional and permanent housing programs as well as supportive services such as job training, case management, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care. Street outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons and families are also funded through these grants.  The grants announced today are $26 million more than last year's grants.  In January HUD awarded more than $1.4 billion in Continuum of Care grants to renew existing funding to 7000 local homeless programs.  The two awards combined represent the most homelessness assistance ever awarded by HUD.

The programs supported by the grants include the Supportive Housing Program (SHP) which offers housing and supportive services to allow homeless persons to live as independently as possible; a Single Room Occupancy Program which provides rental assistance for homeless persons in one person housing units with small kitchens and/or baths.  A third program, Shelter Plus Care is a long-term housing and supportive services program for homeless persons with disabilities such as mental illness, substance dependency, AIDS and related diseases and their families as an alternative to shelters or the streets.

Donovan said that people may question the expenditure during a period in which the President has stressed the necessity for setting priorities.  However, he said, when we combine homeless programs with supportive services as these programs do, the number of police reports, ambulance calls, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and other costly services decline.

Though homelessness is largely an urban phenomenon, Donovan said HUD is reserving record amount of the funding to meet the unique challenges faced by homeless individuals and families living in rural areas.  He noted that homelessness has a different face in rural than in urban areas.  There are fewer shelters and other resources for the homeless so they tend to take shelter in cars or double up in possibly substandard housing. 

"Today, we build on the Obama Administration's goal to prevent and end homelessness in America," said Donovan. "This funding will make a significant impact in the lives of thousands of people and provide resources to bring them towards the road of independence."

HERE is a list of programs that will receive funding.