The Biden administration through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today released a first-of-its-kind package of resources to address unsheltered homelessness and homeless encampments, including funds set aside specifically to address homelessness in rural communities.
The $365 million package includes grant funds along with additional vouchers that are aimed at enhancing communities’ capacity to humanely and effectively address unsheltered homelessness by connecting vulnerable individuals and families to housing, health care and supportive services.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the initiative is a step in the right direction.
“President Biden is following through on his promise to unite our country by delivering funding for health care and services that support individuals who are unhoused,” said Gupta. “As a physician, I have seen firsthand how important it is to address the social and economic conditions of a person’s life in order for them to realize the health and well-being every American deserves. Today’s announcement is a key step in our work to do just that.”
The HUD initiative for unsheltered and rural homelessness is based on promoting partnerships with health care organizations, public housing authorities and mainstream housing providers, and people with lived experience and expertise of homelessness.
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said, “We have a responsibility to ensure that people sleeping in their vehicles, in tents or on the streets, including in rural areas, have access to decent, stable housing and services, like health care and treatment, to live with dignity and safety.”
She added, “Solving unsheltered homelessness means delivering help to the people who need it the most, but who have the hardest time reaching it. It means putting housing first and health care and other supportive services right after. With this funding, communities will have the resources to scale up coordinated efforts to humanely and effectively move people from encampments into homes by linking homeless outreach with health care, treatment, and housing.”
“Access to a safe place to call home is essential to health and well-being,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to working across the federal government to end homelessness by ensuring access to health care, support services and permanent housing for all Americans. I am pleased to support Secretary Fudge in bringing housing and health care within greater reach for those who need it most, including in rural communities.”
Specifically, the package includes:
- $322 million in Continuum of Care Program grants to fund homeless outreach, permanent housing, supportive services and other costs as part of a comprehensive community approach to solve unsheltered homelessness, including a set-aside of $54.5 million specifically for rural communities. These grants will fund projects for three years, after which they will be eligible for renewal through the annual Continuum of Care Program competition.
- $43 million to fund approximately 4,000 new incremental vouchers will be allocated via a separate notice to public housing authorities with a priority to those that are partners in comprehensive community approaches to solve homelessness. These vouchers can serve households experiencing or at risk of homelessness; those fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; and veterans and families that include a veteran family member who meets one of the proceeding criteria. Congress has provided HUD with waiver authorities to aid vulnerable households.
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said, “Getting unsheltered veterans and homeless rural vets into houses is a top priority in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ strategy to end veteran homelessness. These new resources from HUD add timely new capacity to this fight. No veteran should ever be homeless in this country, which they swore an oath to defend.”