Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
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The causes of homelessness and how best to assist those who find themselves homeless became a
particularly prominent, visible issue in the 1980s. The concept of homelessness may seem like a
straightforward one, with individuals and families having no place to live falling within the
definition. However, the extent of homelessness in this country and how best to address it depend
upon how one defines the condition of being homeless. There is no single federal definition of
homelessness, although a number of programs, including those overseen by the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of
Labor (DOL) use the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition. That
definition is one who lacks a fixed nighttime residence and whose primary nighttime residence is
a supervised public or private shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations, a
facility accommodating persons intended to be institutionalized, or a place not intended to be
used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
A number of federal programs in seven different agencies, many authorized by the McKinney-
Vento Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77), serve homeless persons. These include the
Education for Homeless Children and Youths program administered by the Department of
Education (ED) and the Emergency Food and Shelter program, a Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) program run by the Department of Homeland Security. The
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers a number of programs that serve
homeless individuals. These include Health Care for the Homeless, Projects for Assistance in
Transition from Homelessness, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth program.
HUD administers the Homeless Assistance Grants, made up of four separate programs that
provide housing and services for homeless individuals – the Supportive Housing Program, the
Shelter Plus Care program, the Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation of Single-Room Occupancy
Dwellings program, and the Emergency Shelter Grants program. The VA operates numerous
programs that serve homeless veterans. These include the Health Care for Homeless Veterans
program and the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program, as well as a collaborative
program with HUD called HUD-VASH, through which homeless veterans receive Section 8
vouchers from HUD and supportive services through the VA. The Department of Labor also
operates a program for homeless veterans, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
Five bills were enacted during the 110th Congress containing provisions regarding homelessness:
the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act (P.L. 110-378), Higher Education Opportunity Act (P.L.
110-315), Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-289), the College Cost
Reduction and Access Act (P.L. 110-84), and the Veterans’ Mental Health and Other Care th
Improvements Act (P.L. 110-387). Legislative activity in the 111 Congress relating to
homelessness can also be expected. Legislation may include attempts to reauthorize the th
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. In the 110 Congress, both the full House and the
Senate Banking Committee approved legislation that would have reauthorized the grant programs
and made changes to the way in which the grants are administered. Attention may also turn to
homelessness due to the recent downturn in the economy. Reports from service providers in many
parts of the country indicate that the number of individuals seeking assistance may be increasing.
This report will be updated as warranted.
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Introduc tion ..................................................................................................................................... 1
The Federal Response to Homelessness..........................................................................................3
Department of Education (ED).................................................................................................4
Education for Homeless Children and Youths....................................................................4
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)................................................................................5
Emergency Food and Shelter (EFS) Program.....................................................................5
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)..................................................................6
Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Program..................................................................6
Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH).....................................7
Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals..................................................................7
Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.............................................................................7
Department of Justice (DOJ)...................................................................................................10
Transitional Housing Assistance for Child Victims of Domestic Violence,
Stalking, or Sexual Assault............................................................................................10
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)........................................................11
Homeless Assistance Grants..............................................................................................11
Department of Labor (DOL)...................................................................................................13
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.......................................................................13
Referral and Counseling Services: Veterans at Risk of Homelessness Who Are
Transitioning from Certain Institutions.........................................................................13
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)......................................................................................14
Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) ..................................................................14
Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program ..........................................................14
Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans (DCHV)...........................................................15
Compensated Work Therapy Program .............................................................................16
Guaranteed Transitional Housing for Homeless Veterans................................................16
HUD VA Supported Housing (HUD-VASH)....................................................................16
Other Activities for Homeless Veterans............................................................................17
Social Security Administration................................................................................................18
The Recent Economic Downturn and Homelessness..............................................................19
The Chronic Homelessness Initiative......................................................................................20
Reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants.................................22
Legislation Enacted in the 110th Congress.....................................................................................24
Funding ........................................................................................................................ .................. 26
Table 1. Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs Appropriations, FY2005-FY2008...............26
Table 2. Homelessness: Targeted VA Program Obligations, FY2004-FY2008.............................27
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................27
Key Policy Staff............................................................................................................................28
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Federal assistance targeted to homeless individuals and families was largely non-existent prior to
the mid-1980s. Although the Runaway and Homeless Youth program was enacted in 1974 as part
of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (P.L. 93-415), the first federal program
focused on assisting all homeless people, no matter their age, was the Emergency Food and
Shelter (EFS) program, established in March 1983 through an emergency jobs appropriation bill
(P.L. 98-8). The EFS program was and continues to be administered by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide
emergency food and shelter to needy individuals.
In 1987, Congress enacted the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77),
which created a number of new programs to comprehensively address the needs of homeless
people, including food, shelter, health care, and education. The act was later renamed the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 106-400) after its two prominent proponents –
Representatives Stewart B. McKinney and Bruce F. Vento. The programs authorized in
McKinney-Vento include the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Homeless
Assistance Grants, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care for Homeless Veterans
and Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans programs, the Department of Labor (DOL)
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals and Health Care for the Homeless, and the
Department of Education (ED) Education for Homeless Children and Youths program.
This report describes existing federal programs that provide targeted assistance to homeless
individuals and families (other federal programs may provide assistance to homeless individuals
but are not specifically designed to assist homeless persons). These include those programs listed
above, as well as others that Congress has created since the enactment of McKinney-Vento. In th
addition, this report summarizes homelessness legislation enacted in the 110 Congress and
discusses current issues related to homelessness, including the recent economic downturn,
chronic homelessness, and potential reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance
Grants. Finally, Table 1 at the end of this report shows funding levels for each of the ED, DHS,
HHS, HUD, DOL, and Department of Justice (DOJ) programs that assist homeless individuals.
Table 2 shows funding levels for VA programs.
There is no single federal definition of what it means to be homeless, and definitions among
federal programs that serve homeless individuals may vary to some degree. As a result, the
populations served through the federal programs described in this report may differ depending on
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77), enacted in 1987, authorized
numerous programs to assist homeless individuals (McKinney-Vento is discussed more fully in
the next section of this report). The act included programs to address various needs of homeless
persons such as housing, education, health care, and food assistance, among others, all
administered by various federal agencies. McKinney-Vento also contained a definition of the term
homeless individual for purposes of those programs that were authorized through the law (see
Section 103 of McKinney-Vento). The definition of homeless individual in McKinney-Vento is
used today to determine eligibility for the HUD Homeless Assistance Grants, FEMA’s Emergency
Food and Shelter program, the VA homeless veterans programs, and the DOL’s Homeless 1
Veterans Reintegration Program. Section 103 of McKinney-Vento defines a homeless individual
[a]n individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and a person
who has a nighttime residence that is (a) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter
designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate
shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); (b) an institution that provides a
temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or (c) a public or private
place not designed for, nor ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human 2
The definition is sometimes described as requiring one to be literally homeless in order to meet its 3
requirements − either living in emergency accommodations or having no place to stay. This
contrasts with definitions used in some other federal programs, where a person may currently
have a place to live but is still considered to be homeless because the accommodation is
precarious or temporary.
Among the federal programs that have adopted a definition of homelessness that differs from the
definition in Section 103 of McKinney-Vento is the Department of Education (ED) Education for
Homeless Children and Youth program. The ED program defines homeless children and youths in
part by reference to the Section 103 definition of homeless individuals: those living in places not 4
meant for human habitation. In addition, however, the Education for Homeless Children and
Youth program defines children and youth who are eligible for services to include those who are
(1) sharing housing with other persons due to loss of housing or economic hardship, (2) those
living in hotels or motels, trailer parks or campgrounds due to lack of alternative arrangements, 5
(3) those awaiting foster care placement, and (4) children of migrant workers.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Runaway and Homeless Youth program
also has its own definition of homelessness. However, unlike the Education for Homeless
Children and Youth program, the Runaway and Homeless Youth program definition does not refer
to the McKinney-Vento Act Section 103 definition. Instead, the statute defines a homeless youth
as either age 16 to 21 (for transitional housing) or age 18 and younger (for short-term shelter) and
for whom it is not possible to live in a safe environment with a relative or for whom there is no 6
other safe alternative living arrangement.
1 The definition of homeless veteran is a veteran who is homeless as defined by McKinney-Vento. 38 U.S.C. § 2002(1).
This definition applies to VA programs for homeless veterans as well as the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
2 42 U.S.C. § 11302(a).
3 See, for example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Third Annual Homeless Assessment
Report to Congress, July 2008, p. 2, footnote 5, http://www.hudhre.info/documents/3rdHomelessAssessmentReport.pdf.
4 42 U.S.C. § 11434a.
5 Migratory children are defined at 20 U.S.C. § 6399.
6 42 U.S.C. § 5732a(3).
Different definitions are also used by the Health Care for the Homeless program and Projects for
Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH), both administered by HHS. Under the
Health Care for the Homeless program, a homeless individual is one who “lacks housing” and
includes those living in a private or publicly operated temporary living facility or in transitional 7
housing. In the PATH program, an “eligible homeless individual” is described as one suffering
from serious mental illness, which may also be accompanied by a substance abuse disorder, and
who is “homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.” The statute does not further define
what constitutes being homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness, however.
The way in which a homeless individual is defined was the subject of legislation to reauthorize th
the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in the 110 Congress. Three bills, H.R. 840,
the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, H.R.
7221, also called the HEARTH Act, and S. 1518, the Community Partnership to End
Homelessness Act, would have expanded the current definition of homeless individual in Section
103 of McKinney-Vento to encompass some people who are in precarious housing situations but
are not yet literally homeless. This legislation is discussed in greater detail in the section of this
report entitled “Reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Grants.”
Homelessness in the United States has always existed, but it did not come to the public’s attention
as a national issue until the 1970s and 1980s, when the characteristics of the homeless population th
and their living arrangements began to change. Throughout the early and middle part of the 20
century, homelessness was typified by “skid rows”: areas with hotels and single-room occupancy 8
dwellings where transient single men lived. Skid rows were usually removed from the more 9
populated areas of cities, and it was uncommon for individuals to actually live on the streets.
Beginning in the 1970s, however, the homeless population began to grow and become more
visible to the general public. According to studies from the time, homeless persons were no
longer almost exclusively single men, but included women with children; their median age was
younger; they were more racially diverse (in previous decades, the observed homeless population
was largely white); they were less likely to be employed (and therefore had lower incomes); they
were mentally ill in higher proportions than previously; and individuals who were abusing or had 10
abused drugs began to become more prevalent in the population.
A number of reasons have been offered for the growth in the number of homeless persons and
their increasing visibility. Many cities demolished skid rows to make way for urban development, 11
leaving some residents without affordable housing options. Other possible factors contributing
to homelessness include the decreased availability of affordable housing generally, the reduced
need for seasonal unskilled labor, the reduced likelihood that relatives will accommodate
homeless family members, the decreased value of public benefits, and changed admissions
7 42 U.S.C. § 254b(h)(5)(A).
8 Peter H. Rossi, Down and Out in America: The Origins of Homelessness (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,
1989), pp. 20-21, 27-28.
9 Ibid., p. 34.
10 Ibid., pp. 39-44.
11 Ibid., p. 33.
standards at mental hospitals.12 The increased visibility of homeless people was due, in part, to 13
the decriminalization of actions such as public drunkenness, loitering, and vagrancy.
In the 1980s, Congress first responded to the growing prevalence of homelessness with several
separate grant programs designed to address the food and shelter needs of homeless individuals.
These programs included the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (P.L. 98-8), the Emergency
Shelter Grants Program (P.L. 99-591), and the Transitional Housing Demonstration Program (P.L. 14
99-591). In 1983, the first federal task force was created to provide information to local
governments and other parties on how to obtain surplus federal property that could be used for
providing shelter and other services for homeless persons.
Congress began to consider comprehensive legislation to address homelessness in 1986. On June
26, 1986, H.R. 5140 and S. 2608 were introduced as the Homeless Persons’ Survival Act to
provide an aid package for homeless persons. No further action was taken on either measure,
however. Later that same year, legislation containing Title I of the Homeless Persons’ Survival
Act − emergency relief provisions for shelter, food, mobile health care, and transitional housing −
was introduced as the Urgent Relief for the Homeless Act (H.R. 5710). The legislation passed
both houses of Congress in 1987 with large bipartisan majorities. The act was renamed the
Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act after the death of its chief sponsor, Stewart B.
McKinney of Connecticut; it was renamed again on October 30, 2000, as the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Act after the death of another prominent sponsor, Bruce F. Vento of
Minnesota. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed the act into law (P.L. 100-77).
The original version of the McKinney-Vento Act consisted of 15 programs providing an array of
services for homeless persons. The act also established the Interagency Council on Homelessness,
which is designed to provide guidance on the federal response to homelessness through the
coordination of the efforts of multiple federal agencies covered under the McKinney-Vento Act.
Since the enactment of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, there have been several
legislative changes to programs and services provided under the act. Specific programs covered
under the McKinney-Vento Act, as well as other federal programs responding to homelessness,
are discussed below.
(42 U.S.C. §§ 11431-11435) This program, also known as the Education for Homeless Children
and Youth program, was initially authorized under Title VII, Part B, of the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Act; it provides assistance to state education agencies (SEAs) to ensure that
all homeless children and youth have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education,
including public preschool education, that is provided to other children and youth. Grants made
by SEAs to local education agencies (LEAs) under this program must be used to facilitate the
12 Ibid., pp. 181-194, 41. See also Martha Burt, Over the Edge: The Growth of Homelessness in the 1980s (New York:
Russell Sage Foundation, 1992), pp. 31-126.
13 Down and Out in America, p. 34; Over the Edge, p. 123.
14 All three programs were incorporated into the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 1987. (The Transitional
Housing Demonstration Program was renamed the Supportive Housing Demonstration Program.)
enrollment, attendance, and success in school of homeless children and youth. The LEAs may use
the funds for activities such as tutoring, supplemental instruction, and referral services for
homeless children and youth, as well as providing them with medical, dental, mental, and other
health services. In order to receive funds, each state must submit a plan indicating how homeless
children and youth will be identified, how assurances will be put in place that homeless children
will participate in federal, state, and local food programs if eligible, and how the state will
address such problems as transportation, immunization, residency requirements, and the lack of
birth certificates or school records.
Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program grants are allotted to SEAs in proportion to
grants made under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, except
that no state can receive less than the greater of $150,000, 0.25% of the total annual
appropriation, or the amount received in FY2001 under this program. The Department of
Education must reserve 0.1% of the total appropriation in order to provide grants to outlying areas
(Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands). The Department must also transfer 1.0% of the total appropriation to the Department of
the Interior for services to homeless children and youth provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110), amended the program explicitly to prohibit
states that receive McKinney-Vento funds from segregating homeless students from non-
homeless students, except for short periods of time for health and safety emergencies or to
provide temporary, special, supplementary services. An exception was made for four counties that
operated separate schools for homeless students in FY2000 (San Joaquin, Orange, and San Diego
counties in California, and Maricopa County in Arizona), as long as: (1) those separate schools
offer services that are comparable to local schools; and (2) homeless children are not required to
attend them. The Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program was authorized under the
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 through FY2007 (FY2008 with the automatic one-year 15
extension provided by the General Education Provisions Act).
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, signed into law on July 30, 2008 (P.L. 110-
289), included a provision increasing the authorization for the McKinney-Vento Education for
Homeless Children and Youth Program from $70 million to $100 million for FY2009, and such
sums as may be necessary for each subsequent fiscal year. If appropriated funds for the program
are greater than $70 million, this provision authorizes the Secretary to award emergency grants
(not to exceed $30 million) to SEAs based on need, to assist children and youth who have become
homeless due to foreclosure. SEAs would then award these grants to LEAs based on their need
for such awards. Determination of need is to be based on the number of children, youth, and their
families who have become homeless due to foreclosure of their home or rental property.
(42 U.S.C. §§ 11331-11352) The Emergency Food and Shelter program, the oldest federal 16
program serving all homeless populations, was established in March 1983 and is administered
15 See Section 422 of the General Education Provisions Act, as amended by P.L. 103-382. 42 U.S.C. § 1226a.
16 The Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, discussed later in this report, was enacted in 1974.
by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in the Department of Homeland
Security. The program allocates funds to local communities to fund homeless programs and
homelessness prevention services. The EFS program is governed by a National Board chaired by
FEMA and made up of representatives from the United Way of America, the Salvation Army, the
National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., Catholic Charities U.S.A., United Jewish
Communities, and the American Red Cross. The National Board uses a formula comprised of
unemployment rates and poverty rates to determine which local jurisdictions (typically counties)
qualify for funds. Eligible local jurisdictions then convene a local board to determine which
organizations − nonprofits and government agencies − within their communities should receive 17
grants, and distribute their available funds accordingly.
Eligible expenses for which local organizations may use funds include items for food pantries
such as groceries, food vouchers, and transportation expenses related to the delivery of food;
items for mass shelters such as hot meals, transportation of clients to shelters or food service
providers, and toiletries; payments to prevent homelessness such as utility assistance, hotel or
motel lodging, rental or mortgage assistance and first month’s rent; and local recipient
organization program expenses such as building maintenance or repair, and equipment purchases
up to $300.
The EFS program was established by the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983
(P.L. 98-8); in 1987 it was authorized under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The
authorization for the EFS program expired at the end of FY1994 (42 U.S.C. § 11352), however it
continues to be funded through annual appropriations.
(42 U.S.C. § 254b(h)) The Health Care for the Homeless program is authorized as a Consolidated
Health Centers Program and currently allocates funds to 184 grantees to provide health services
to a special medically underserved population comprised of homeless individuals. This is the only
federal program with responsibility for addressing the primary health care needs of homeless
people; it furnishes a range of services that include emergency shelter, transitional housing, job
training, primary health care, education, and some permanent housing. Grants are also available
for innovative programs that provide outreach and comprehensive primary health services to
homeless children and children at risk of homelessness. Centers that receive grants to care for
homeless persons are required to provide substance abuse treatment as a condition of the grant. In
CY2006, approximately 701,623 homeless individuals were provided services by this program.
Authorization for the Health Centers Program expired at the end of FY2006 (42 U.S.C. §
254b(r)). (For more information, see CRS Report RL32046, Federal Health Centers Program, by
17 For more information about recipient jurisdictions, see the National Board website, http://efsp.unitedway.org/.
(42 U.S.C. § 290cc-21 through § 290cc-35) Created in 1987, the PATH program is authorized
under Title V of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, Sections 521-535 and administered by the
Center for Mental Health Services within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration (SAMHSA). The PATH formula grant program supports a wide network of state
and local agencies that provide community-based outreach, mental health, substance abuse, case
management, and other support services in a variety of settings for people with serious mental
illness (including those with co-occurring substance abuse disorders) who are homeless or at risk
of becoming homeless. The PATH program provides these services through grants of at least
$300,000 to each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The U.S. territories each
receive $50,000. States must provide matching funds of at least $1 for every $3 of federal funds.
In FY2005, the most recent year for which data are available, states exceeded the minimum level
of matching funds, providing more than $32.7 million in funds to match the $52.4 million federal
allocation. Up to 20% of the federal payments may be used for housing subsidies and other
services to help individuals access housing resources. Authorization for the PATH program 18
expired at the end of FY2003; however, it continues to be funded through annual appropriations.
(42 U.S.C. § 290aa-5) Another program administered through SAMHSA, the Grants for the
Benefit of Homeless Individuals program was one of the programs originally authorized under 19
the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The program is also sometimes referred to as
Section 506 grants after the section of the Public Health Service Act where it was transferred as
part of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act of 1991
(P.L. 102-321). Through the Section 506 grants, SAMHSA supports community services for
homeless individuals with substance abuse disorders or with co-occurring substance abuse and
mental disorders. The goal is to link substance abuse and mental health treatment services with
housing programs and other services for homeless persons. The programs are evaluated based on
outcomes such as employment, permanent housing, reduced criminal involvement, reduced
substance abuse, and improved mental health. In FY2008, SAMHSA budgeted $32.6 million for 20
Section 506 grants.
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Program is administered by the Family and Youth Services
Bureau (FYSB) within HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The program was
established in 1974 and was most recently authorized by the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act
of 2008 (P.L. 110-378). The law authorizes federal funding for three programs through FY2013:
the Basic Center Program (BCP), Transitional Living Program (TLP), and Street Outreach
Program (SOP). These programs are designed to provide services to runaway and homeless youth
outside of the law enforcement, juvenile justice, child welfare, and mental health systems. The
18 For more information, see http://pathprogram.samhsa.gov.
19 See Section 613 of McKinney-Vento.
20 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
FY2009 Congressional Budget Justifications, p. CSAT-22,
funding streams for the Basic Center Program and Transitional Living Program were separate
until Congress consolidated them in 1999 (P.L. 106-71). Together, the two programs, along with
other program activities, are known as the Consolidated Runaway and Homeless Youth 21
Program. Although the Street Outreach Program is a separately funded component, SOP
services are coordinated with those provided under the BCP and TLP. Grantees must provide at
least 10% of the funds to cover the total cost of the services provided under the three programs.
(For more information about the program, see CRS Report RL33785, Runaway and Homeless
Youth: Demographics and Programs, by Adrienne L. Fernandes.)
(42 U.S.C. §§ 5701-5751) The Basic Center Program is intended to provide short-term shelter
and services for youth under age 18 and their families through public and private community-
based centers. Youth eligible to receive BCP services include those youth who are at risk of
running away or becoming homeless (and who may live at home with their parents), or have
already left home, either voluntarily or involuntarily. In FY2007, approximately 330 BCP shelters 22
in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, America Samoa, and Guam served 43,867 youth. These centers,
which generally shelter as many as 20 youth for approximately two weeks, are located in areas
that are frequented or easily reached by runaway and homeless youth. The centers seek to reunite
youth with their families, whenever possible, or to locate appropriate alternative placements. The
centers also provide food, clothing, individual and family counseling, and health care referrals.
Some centers serve homeless youth ages 18 to 21 through street-based services, home-based
services, and drug abuse education and prevention services.
BCP grants are allocated by formula to each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and
are then distributed by HHS on a competitive basis to community-based organizations. The
amount of BCP funding available to a jurisdiction is based on its proportion of the nation’s youth
under age 18, and under the law, each jurisdiction receives a minimum of $200,000. Separately,
each of the territories (U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, America Samoa, and the Northern Mariana 23
Islands) receives a minimum of $70,000 of the total appropriations. Grantees are required to
establish relationships with law enforcement, health and mental health care, social service,
welfare, and school district systems to coordinate services.
(42 U.S.C. § 5714-1 through § 5714-2) The Transitional Living Program provides longer-term
shelter and assistance for youth ages 16 to 22 (including pregnant and/or parenting youth) who
may leave their biological homes due to family conflict, or have left and are not expected to
21 Other program activities include a national communications system for runaway youth and their families, logistical
support for grantee organizations, HHS’s National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, demonstrations, and the
administration of the management information system that tracks data on runaway and homeless youth, known as
22 U.S. Department Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families Justification of Estimates
for Appropriations Committees, FY2008, p. 93. Data on youth served by the BCP, TLP, and SOP are provided in
HHS’s NEO-RHYMIS reporting system on runaway and homeless youth, https://extranet.acf.hhs.gov/rhymis/
23 Prior the enactment of P.L. 110-378, states could receive a minimum of $100,000 and territories could receive a
minimum of $45,000.
return home. TLP grants are distributed competitively by HHS to community-based public and
private organizations. In FY2007, just over 200 organizations received TLP grants and served 24
Puerto Rico, and Guam appear to have at least one TLP grantee. Each TLP grantee may shelter
up to 20 youth at host family homes, supervised apartments owned by a social service agency, or
scattered-site apartments and single-occupancy apartments rented directly with the assistance of
the agency. The new law to reauthorize the program, P.L. 110-378, continues to allow youth to
remain at TLP projects for up to 540 days (18 months) or longer for youth under age 18 and adds
that a youth may remain in the program for a continuous period of 635 days (approximately 21 26
months) under “exceptional circumstances.” The new law further authorizes that a youth in a
TLP who has not reached age 18 on the last day of the 635-day period may, in exceptional
circumstances and if otherwise qualified for the program, remain in the program until his or her th
• basic life-skills training, including consumer education, and instruction in
budgeting and housekeeping;
• interpersonal skill-building;
• educational preparation, such as GED courses and post-secondary training;
• assistance in job preparation and attainment;
• education and counseling on substance abuse; and
• mental and physical health care services.
The 2003 amendments to the Runaway, Homeless, and Missing Children Protection Act (P.L.
108-96) provided statutory authority for TLP funds to be used for maternity group homes. For
FY2003 through FY2006, the President requested $10 million to fund the group homes. However,
Congress has not appropriated any specific funding for the initiative. Grantees may and do use
TLP funds to directly serve unwed pregnant and parenting teens, without a specific set-aside.
These organizations provide youth with parenting skills, including child development education,
family budgeting, health and nutrition, and other skills to promote their well-being and the well-
being of their children.
(42 U.S.C. § 5712d) Runaway and homeless youth living on the streets or in areas that increase
their risk of using drugs or being subjected to sexual abuse, prostitution, or sexual exploitation are
eligible to receive services through the Street Outreach Program. The program’s goal is to assist
youth in transitioning to safe and appropriate living arrangements. SOP services include outreach
and education, treatment, counseling, provision of information, and referrals to other social
24 U.S. Department Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families Justification of Estimates for
Appropriations Committees, FY2008, p. 93.
25 See “Locate a TLP Program” on the Family and Youth Services website,
26 This term means circumstances in which a youth would benefit to an unusual extent from additional time in the
27 This program is also known as the Education and Prevention Services to Reduce Sexual Abuse of Runaway,
Homeless, and Street Youth Program.
service agencies. The Street Outreach Program is funded separately from the BCP and TLP, and is
authorized to receive such sums as may be necessary. Since FY1996, when funding for the Street
Outreach Program was established, community-based public and private organizations have been
eligible to apply for SOP grants. Grants are generally awarded for a three-year period. Applicants
may apply for a $100,000 grant each year for a maximum of $200,000 over that period. In
FY2007, street workers with grantee organizations made 661,286 contacts with street youth
(multiple contacts may have been made with an individual youth). Of those youth, most received
written materials about referral services, health and hygiene products, and food and drink items.
The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), Title III of the Child Abuse
Amendments of 1984 (P.L. 98-457), authorized funds for Family Violence Prevention and Service
grants that work to prevent family violence, improve service delivery to address family violence,
and increase knowledge and understanding of family violence. Some of these projects focus on
runaway and homeless youth in dating violence situations through HHS’s Domestic
Violence/Runaway and Homeless Youth Collaboration on the Prevention of Adolescent Dating
Violence initiative. The initiative was created because many runaway and homeless youth come
from homes where domestic violence occurs and may be at risk of abusing their partners or 28
becoming victims of abuse. The initiative funds projects carried out by faith-based and
charitable organizations that advocate or provide direct services to runaway and homeless youth
or victims of domestic violence. The grants fund training for staff at these organizations to enable
them to assist youth in preventing dating violence. Eight projects are funded at $75,000 annually,
for FY2008 through FY2010, the most recent funding cycle.
(42 U.S.C. § 13975) The 108th Congress passed the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to
End the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 (the PROTECT Act, P.L. 108-21), which
contains the Transitional Housing Assistance for Child Victims of Domestic Violence, Stalking, or
Sexual Assault program. The PROTECT Act authorizes the Attorney General to provide grants to
states, units of local governments, Indian tribes, and nonprofit organizations to assist an eligible
adult, minor, and their dependents who are fleeing domestic violence, or for whom emergency
shelter services are lacking. Under the act, eligible adults, minors, and their dependents may be
assisted with transitional housing, short-term housing assistance such as help with rent and utility
payments, and supportive services, including help in finding and maintaining permanent housing.
Grants may be used to help eligible persons with temporary housing for a maximum of 24
28 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Domestic Violence/Runaway and Homeless Youth Collaboration
on the Prevention of Adolescent Dating Violence Grant Announcement, April 24, 2007,
The transitional housing assistance program had been authorized at $30 million for each of th
FY2004 through FY2008; however, during the 109 Congress, the Violence Against Women and
Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162) increased the authorized
funding level and extended the authorization period for the transitional housing program,
providing $40 million for FY2007 through FY2011. At least 7% of the total appropriation in any
fiscal year for this program must be allocated to tribal organizations serving victims of domestic
and dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault. For FY2005 through FY2008, Congress
appropriated funding for the program through a set-aside from the Special Training Officers and
Prosecutors (STOP) grant. Enacted FY2008 funding for the transitional housing assistance grant
program is $17.39 million. (For additional information, see CRS Report RL30871, Violence
Against Women Act: History and Federal Funding, by Garrine P. Laney.)
The Homeless Assistance Grants were established in 1987 as part of the Stewart B. McKinney
Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77). The grants, administered by HUD, fund housing and
services for homeless persons. Initially, four programs, including the Emergency Shelter Grants
(ESG) program, Supportive Housing Program (SHP), and Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation
Assistance for Single-Room Occupancy Dwellings (SRO) program, were funded through HUD’s
Homeless Assistance Grants. Since 1987, Congress has added and removed grant programs, but
these three remain, together with the Shelter Plus Care (S+C) program, which was introduced as
part of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act (P.L. 101-625) in 1992. Two
additional programs − Rural Homeless Grants and Safe Havens for Homeless Individuals − still
exist statutorily, although they have not been funded since FY1994 when Congress gave HUD the
authority to use SHP funds for these programs.
Funding for the ESG program is allocated to states and localities on a formula basis. Funding for
the other three programs − SHP, S+C, and SRO − is disseminated through HUD’s Continuum of
Care (CoC) system. Under the CoC strategy, localities and states are encouraged to develop and
maintain assistance systems that integrate programs and services for persons experiencing
homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless. Local communities establish CoC
coordinating boards made up of local government officials and service providers. The CoC
boards establish local priorities and strategies to address homelessness in their communities.
Local programs that wish to receive HUD funding submit their applications to the CoC boards,
which then review them, prioritize them, and submit them to HUD for review. Out of concern that
not enough CoC dollars were being spent on housing (versus services), since FY2002 Congress
has required that not less than 30% of funds appropriated to the Homeless Assistance Grants
programs be used for permanent housing. Following is a description of the four programs that are
presently funded under the Homeless Assistance Grants. (For more information about the
distribution of the funds for the four grants, see CRS Report RL33764, The HUD Homeless
Assistance Grants: Distribution of Funds, by Libby Perl.)
(42 U.S.C. §§ 11371-11378) The ESG program distributes formula grants to state and local
governments; recipient governments may then distribute all or a portion of the funds to private
nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to homeless individuals. ESG funds are distributed
so that state and local governments receive the same proportion of total ESG funds as they
receive of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. Factors used to determine how
CDBG funds are distributed include poverty rates, population, the number of persons in poverty,
housing overcrowding (homes in which there is more than 1.01 persons per room), the age of
housing (the number of housing structures built prior to 1940), and the extent of population
growth lag in a given community.
Emergency Shelter Grants may be used for the renovation, major rehabilitation or conversion of
buildings into emergency shelters. The funds may also be used for essential services, including
employment, health, drug abuse or education services, although not more than 30% of funds may
be used for services. Another allowable use of funds is the maintenance, operation, insurance,
utilities, and furnishing costs for these emergency shelters, although not more than 10% of the
funds may be used for staffing costs. Funds may also be used to prevent homelessness. Financial
assistance may be given to families that have received eviction or termination of utility service
notices if (1) the inability to make such payments is due to a sudden reduction in income, (2)
there is a reasonable prospect that the family will be able to resume payments within a reasonable
period of time, and (3) the assistance will not supplant funding for preexisting homelessness
prevention activities from other sources. Up to 30% of funds may be used for prevention
activities. There is a one-for-one match requirement for local governments; there is no match
requirement for the first $100,000 for states, but a one-for-one match is required for the remainder
of the funds. The authorization for this program (42 U.S.C. § 11377) expired at the end of
FY1994; however, the program has continued to be funded through annual appropriations.
(42 U.S.C. §§ 11381-11389) Housing funded under the SHP may be transitional housing for
individuals and families for up to 24 months, permanent housing for disabled individuals, or
single room occupancy dwellings. In order to receive funds, permanent housing must provide
supportive services for its residents such as case management, child care, employment assistance,
outpatient health services, and food and cash assistance. States, local governmental entities,
private nonprofit organizations, or community mental health associations that are public nonprofit
organizations may apply for funds through their local CoC boards. SHP requires that not less than
25% of funds be used to serve homeless families with children, not less than 25% be used to
serve homeless persons with disabilities, and not less than 10% be used for providing supportive
services. There is also a dollar-for-dollar match requirement for acquisition, rehabilitation, and
construction activities, a 20% match for services, and a 25% match requirement for operational
expenses. No provider may use more than 5% of SHP funds for administrative purposes. The
authorization for this program (42 U.S.C. § 11389) expired at the end of FY1994; however, it has
continued to be funded through annual appropriations.
(42 U.S.C. §§ 11403-11406b) The S+C program provides tenant- and project-based rental
subsidies to homeless adults with disabilities. Like the Section 8 program, tenants pay 30% of
their income toward housing and the administering body pays the rest. The assistance is initially
funded for five years, but can be renewed at the end of those five years on an annual basis. S+C
grants must be matched by local communities dollar for dollar. While S+C grant dollars cannot be
used to fund supportive services, grantees are expected to partner with other agencies to provide
services and the dollar for dollar match requirement can be met through spending on services. Not
less than 50% of S+C rental units must be reserved for homeless individuals who are seriously
mentally ill, have chronic substance abuse problems, or both. A state, unit of general local
government (city, county, town, township, parish, or village) or public housing authority may
apply for funds through their local CoC boards. Grantees may provide rental assistance to private
nonprofit entities (including community mental health centers established as nonprofit
organizations) that own or lease dwelling units. The authorization for this program (42 U.S.C. §
11403h) expired at the end of FY1994; however, the program has continued to be funded through
(42 U.S.C. §§ 11401, 11407-11407b) Under the SRO program, HUD provides rental subsidies,
through public housing authorities, to support housing units that are similar to dormitories, having
single bedrooms, community bathrooms, and kitchen facilities. The SRO units are funded as part
of HUD’s Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation program; the program requires grant recipients to
spend at least $3,000 per unit to rehabilitate property to be used for SRO housing. Grant
recipients are then reimbursed for the costs of rehabilitating the SRO units through Section 8
rental assistance payments that they receive over a 10-year contract period. The costs of
rehabilitation are amortized and added to a base rental amount. The authorization for this program
(42 U.S.C. § 11403h) expired at the end of FY1994; however, it has continued to be funded
through annual appropriations.
(38 U.S.C. § 2021) The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) provides grants to
states or other public entities and nonprofit organizations to operate employment programs that
reach out to homeless veterans. The main goal of the HVRP is to reintegrate homeless veterans
into the economic mainstream and labor force. HVRP grantee organizations provide services that
include outreach, assistance in drafting a resume and preparing for interviews, job search
assistance, subsidized trial employment, job training, and follow-up assistance after placement.
Recipients of HVRP grants also provide supportive services not directly related to employment
such as transportation, provision of or assistance in finding housing, and referral for mental health
treatment or substance abuse counseling. HVRP grantees often employ formerly homeless
veterans to provide outreach to homeless veterans and to counsel them as they search for
employment and stability. Initially, HVRP was authorized by the McKinney-Vento Homeless
Assistance Act of 1987, but in 2001 it was reauthorized under the Homeless Veterans
Comprehensive Assistance Act (P.L. 107-95). Currently HVRP is authorized through FY2009 at
$50 million per year. (For more information about HVRP and other programs for homeless
veterans, see CRS Report RL34024, Veterans and Homelessness, by Libby Perl.)
(38 U.S.C. §2023) The Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-95)
instituted a demonstration program to provide job training and placement services to veterans
leaving prison, long-term care, or mental institutions who are at risk of homelessness. The
enacting law gave both the VA and the Department of Labor authority over the program. By 2005,
the program awarded $1.45 million in initial grants to seven recipients. These grants were
extended through March 2006 with funding of $1.6 million and then again for an additional 15 29
months, though June 30, 2007, with $2 million in funding. The statute enacting the program
provided that it would cease on January 24, 2006, four years after its enactment. However, on
October 10, 2008, Congress extended the program through FY2012 as part of the Veterans’
Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-387). The new law removed
the program’s demonstration status and expanded the number of sites able to provide services to
(38 U.S.C. §§ 2031-2034) The Health Care for Homeless Veterans program operates at VA sites
around the country where staff provide outreach services, physical and psychiatric health exams,
treatment, and referrals to homeless veterans with mental health and substance abuse problems.
As appropriate, the HCHV program places homeless veterans needing long-term treatment into
one of its contract community-based facilities. Housing is provided either through residential
treatment facilities that contract with the VA or through organizations that receive Grant and Per
Diem funding for transitional housing (the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program is
described below). In FY2007, VA’s 132 HCHV sites provided outreach, treatment, and referral 32
services to just over 65,802 homeless veterans. Of those receiving assistance, 1,529 veterans 33
stayed in residential treatment facilities in FY2007, with an average stay of about 61 days. The
HCHV program is authorized through December 31, 2011 (P.L. 109-461).
(38 U.S.C. §§ 2011-2013) The Grant and Per Diem program has two aspects: the grants portion of
the program funds capital grants that organizations may use to build or rehabilitate facilities to be
used for transitional housing and service centers for homeless veterans, while the per diem
portion funds services to homeless veterans. Specifically, capital grants may be used to purchase
buildings, to expand or remodel existing buildings, and to procure vans for use in outreach to and
transportation for, homeless veterans. Service centers for veterans must provide health care,
mental health services, hygiene facilities, benefits and employment counseling, meals,
29 U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistance Secretary for Veterans’ Employment and Training, FY2006 and
FY2007 Annual Report to Congress, May 21, 2008, p. 12, http://www.dol.gov/vets/media/FY2006-
30 For more information about VA programs for homeless veterans, see CRS Report RL34024, Veterans and
Homelessness, by Libby Perl.
31 Also known as the Homeless Chronically Mentally Ill Veterans (HCMI) program.
32 Wesley J. Kasprow, Robert A. Rosenheck, Diane DiLello, Leslie Cavallaro, and Nicole Harelik, Healthcare for
Homeless Veterans Programs: Twenty-First Annual Report, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Northeast Program
Evaluation Center, March 17, 2008, p. 25.
33 Ibid., p. 119.
34 Formerly called the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Services Programs.
transportation assistance, job training and placement services, and case management. The capital
grants will fund up to 65% of the costs of acquisition, expansion or remodeling of facilities, and
grantees must provide the remaining 35%. Under the per diem portion of the program, both
capital grant recipients and those organizations that would be eligible for capital grants (but have
not applied for them) are eligible to apply for funds, although grant recipients have priority in
receiving per diem funds. The Grant and Per Diem program is permanently authorized at $150
million (P.L. 110-387).
(38 U.S.C. § 2061) Within the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program there is also a
special purpose program that provides grants to health care facilities and to grant and per diem
providers to encourage the development of programs for homeless veterans who are women
(including women who care for minor dependents), frail elderly, terminally ill, or chronically
mentally ill. The program was initially authorized at $5 million per year for FY2003 through
FY2005. The program was reauthorized from FY2007 through FY2011 at $7 million per year
(38 U.S.C. § 1710(b)) The Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans program is a residential
rehabilitation program specifically intended to meet the clinical needs of homeless veterans while
preventing the therapeutically inappropriate use of hospital and nursing home care services.
Veterans served through the Domiciliary Care program typically suffer from mental illness, 35
substance abuse disorders, or both. The VA operates the DCHV program at 38 locations with 36
1,950 total beds across the country. A multi-dimensional, individually tailored treatment
approach is used to stabilize the clinical status of veterans while the underlying causes of
homelessness are addressed. The basic components of the DCHV program include community
outreach and referral, admission screening and assessment, medical and psychiatric evaluation,
treatment and rehabilitation, and post-discharge community support. DCHV staff help veterans
apply for housing assistance, or arrangements are made for placement of homeless veterans in
long-term care facilities such as State Soldiers Homes, group homes, adult foster care or halfway
houses. Homeless veterans are provided employment training through involvement in the VA’s
Incentive Therapy Program, a medically prescribed rehabilitation program involving therapeutic
work assignments at VA medical centers for which veterans receive nominal payments. In
FY2007, 5,905 veterans completed treatment in DCHV programs with an average stay of 105 37
days at the VA facilities.
35 Sandra G. Resnick, Robert Rosenheck, Sharon Medak, and Linda Corwel, Nineteenth Progress Report on the
Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans Program, FY2007, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Northeast Program
Evaluation Center, March 28, 2008, p. 10.
36 Ibid., p. 1.
37 Ibid., pp. 9-10.
(38 U.S.C. § 2063) The Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program is a comprehensive
rehabilitation program that prepares veterans for competitive employment and independent living.
The program was created by the Veterans Omnibus Health Care Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-581). The
major goals of the program are (1) to use remunerative work to maximize a veteran’s level of
functioning; (2) to prepare veterans for successful re-entry into the community as productive
citizens; and (3) to provide structured daily activity to those veterans with severe and chronic
disabling physical and/or mental conditions. As part of their work therapy, veterans produce items
for sale or undertake subcontracts to provide certain products and/or services such as temporary
staffing to a company. Funds collected from the sale of these products and/or services are used to
fund the program. Funding for this program comes from the VA’s Special Therapeutic and
Rehabilitation Activities Fund, and the program is permanently authorized at 38 U.S.C. § 1718(c).
(38 U.S.C. §§ 2051-2054) The Guaranteed Transitional Housing for Homeless Veterans Program
was created as part of the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-368). Through
the program, qualified nonprofit organizations or other qualified organizations that have
experience in underwriting transitional housing projects may obtain a loan for the construction,
rehabilitation or acquisition of land for a multifamily transitional housing project for homeless
veterans. The housing may be single room occupancy and must provide supportive and
counseling services (including job counseling) with the goal of encouraging self-sufficiency
among participating veterans. To qualify, a project must require the occupant veterans to seek and
maintain employment. The project must also maintain strict guidelines regarding the sobriety of
participants. Occupants must pay a reasonable fee in order to live in these transitional units.
Veterans who are not homeless, and homeless individuals who are not veterans, may be occupants
of transitional housing if all of the transitional housing needs of homeless veterans in the project
area have been met. Not more than 15 loans with an aggregate total of up to $100 million may be
guaranteed under this program. To date, the VA has committed to two multifamily housing
projects. One project, sponsored by Catholic Charities of Chicago, opened in January 2007 with 39
provide 144 transitional housing units.
(42 U.S.C. § 1437f(o)(19)) HUD-VASH is a joint HUD and VA initiative that provides specially
designated Section 8 vouchers to homeless veterans while the VA provides supportive services.
HUD-VASH serves homeless veterans who have chronic mental illnesses or chronic substance
abuse disorders. Before a veteran may participate in HUD-VASH, he or she must agree to
continue treatment for their mental illness or substance abuse disorder. Every homeless veteran
38 The CWT program was formerly called the Special Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Activities Fund.
39 See U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Multifamily Transitional Housing Loan Guarantee Program: Program
Overview,” Presentation by Claude B. Hutchinson, Jr., July 2007,
40 Statement of Pete Dougherty, Director, Homeless Veterans Programs, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Looking
At Our Homeless Veterans Programs: How Effective Are They?, 109th Cong., 2nd sess., March 16, 2006.
who receives a housing voucher must be assigned to a VA case manager and receive supportive
services. Today’s HUD-VASH program originally began as a Memorandum of Agreement
between HUD and the VA, and through that relationship 1,780 vouchers were created. The
Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-95) codified the program
and authorized the creation of an additional 500 vouchers each year for FY2003-FY2006. In the th
However, funds were not provided for additional vouchers until the 110 Congress, when the
FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-161) allocated $75 million for additional
HUD-VASH vouchers. On April 16, 2008, HUD announced the award of 10,105 vouchers to 41
housing authorities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
In addition to the targeted programs for which specific funding is available (see Table 2 at the
end of this report), the VA engages in several activities to assist homeless veterans that are not
reflected in this report as separate programs. An Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans was
established within VA to consult with and seek advice concerning VA benefits and services to
homeless veterans (38 U.S.C. § 2066). The Advisory Committee consists of 15 members
appointed from Veterans Service Organizations, community-based homeless service providers,
previously homeless veterans, experts in mental illness, substance use disorders and others. The
Advisory Committee is authorized through December 30, 2011 (P.L. 109-461).
Another VA initiative is Comprehensive Homeless Centers (CHCs). These CHCs are located in
eight cities, and consolidate all of the VA’s homeless programs in that area into a single
organizational framework to promote integration within the VA and coordination with non-VA 42
homeless programs. CHCs offer a comprehensive continuum of care to help homeless veterans
escape from homelessness. The VA also sponsors Drop-in Centers, which provide a daytime
sanctuary where homeless veterans can clean up, wash their clothes, get a daytime meal, and
participate in a variety of low intensity therapeutic and rehabilitative activities. Linkages with
longer-term assistance are also available. The VA Excess Property for Homeless Veterans
Initiative provides for the distribution of federal excess personal property (hats, parkas, footwear,
sleeping bags) to homeless veterans and homeless veterans programs.
The Department of Labor makes funds available through its Homeless Veterans Reintegration
Program for local communities that organize Stand Downs for Homeless Veterans. Stand Downs
are local events, staged annually in many cities across the country, in which local Veterans
Service Organizations, businesses, government entities, and other social service organizations
come together for up to three days to provide services for homeless veterans. Some of these
services include food, shelter, clothing, and a range of other types of assistance, including VA
provided health care, benefits certification, and linkages with other programs. Another program,
called Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)’s Acquired Property Sales for Homeless
Providers, allows the VA to sell, at a discount, foreclosed properties to nonprofit organizations
and government agencies that will use them to shelter or house homeless veterans. Finally,
41 For a list of housing authorities and the number of vouchers allocated to each, see
42 Comprehensive Homeless Centers are located in Anchorage, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Dallas, Little Rock, Pittsburgh,
San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Project CHALENG for Veterans is a nationwide VA initiative to work with other agencies and
better coordinate the response to the needs of homeless veterans. VA regional offices designate
“points of contact” from among local service providers, and they in turn work with other federal
agencies, state and local governments, and nonprofit organizations to assess the needs of
homeless veterans and develop action plans to meet identified needs.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates an initiative to increase the access of
homeless individuals to federal benefits through employee training, outreach to homeless persons,
and assistance with applications. Through the program, called the Homeless Outreach Projects
and Evaluation (HOPE) initiative, SSA employees conduct outreach to disabled, chronically
homeless individuals (those persons who have been homeless for more than one year or on four
or more occasions during the last three years) and assist them with filling out applications for
benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income 43
(SSI). The program also helps individuals find assistance for their other needs such as health
care, counseling, and housing. Congress provided $8 million per year for the HOPE initiative in
FY2003, FY2004, and FY2005, and this funding has been used to support 41 HOPE programs 44
throughout the country. An evaluation of the program found that, despite the fact that SSI and
SSDI applications from HOPE program participants were processed more quickly than
comparison groups, there was no significant difference in allowance rates between applications 45
from HOPE programs and the comparison groups. However, the evaluation found improved 46
housing conditions for HOPE program participants, and smaller percentages of participants
were living on the streets, in shelters, or in places not meant for human habitation 12 months after
participating in HOPE.
In addition to the HOPE initiative, a collaboration among SSA, HUD, and HHS makes technical
assistance available to train state and local human services workers to better serve homeless
individuals with mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders who may qualify for Social
Security benefits. The program is called SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR), and
since the program began, employees at both the state and local government level in 34 different 47
states have received SOAR training. A preliminary evaluation of nineteen states and localities
that received SOAR assistance found higher than average approval rates among homeless
applicants on initial applications for SSI and SSDI (70% approval compared to 10-15% for all
homeless applicants), improved access to housing for some individuals who gained benefits, and 48
cost savings for state public benefits programs.
43 For more information about the HOPE Initiative, see the SSA “Service to the Homeless” website at
44 Marion L. McCoy, Cynthia S. Robins, James Bethel, Carina Tornow, and William D. Frey, Evaluation of Homeless
Outreach Projects and Evaluation (HOPE), Social Security Administration, October 2007, p. 1-1,
45 Ibid., pp. 3-11 and 3-13.
46 Ibid., p. 3-15.
47 Initially, 24 states participated in SOAR training. In August 2007, an additional 10 states were selected to participate.
See USICH Newsletter, August 9, 2007, http://www.ich.gov/newsletter/archive/8-09-07_e-newsletter.htm.
48 Preliminary Outcomes from the SOAR Technical Assistance Initiative, Policy Research Associates, May 2008,
In December 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that the economy had 49
been in a recession since December of 2007. Prior to the announcement, effects of an economic
downturn already could be seen in the employment sector, where the unemployment rate had
increased in nearly every month of 2008. In December of 2007, the unemployment rate was 50
4.9%; by December of 2008, it had risen to 7.2%. The housing sector also faced difficulty
throughout the course of 2008. The foreclosure rate for all loans rose from 1.28% in the first 51
quarter of 2007 to 2.97% in the third quarter of 2008. Foreclosure rates may continue to rise 52
throughout 2009 due to additional interest rate resets that are scheduled to occur.
Increased foreclosures and rising unemployment may result in higher rates of homelessness
among all groups, but particularly among families facing increased financial strain. Due to the
time lag in community counts of homeless individuals—the last count required by HUD occurred 53
in January of 2007, with the next count in January of 2009—it is not yet known whether the
number of people experiencing homelessness has grown since the beginning of the economic
downturn or whether any increased levels of homelessness would be related to the economic
situation. However, anecdotal evidence from shelters, soup kitchens, and other service providers
indicates an increased demand for services, and potentially an increase in the number of 54
individuals who are homeless, some for the first time. School districts are reporting higher
numbers of students who qualify for services under the Department of Education’s definition of 55
homelessness. In addition, the 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness 56
Survey reported an average increase in homelessness of 12% among the 25 surveyed cities.
Arguably, in reaction to the reported increased need for emergency help, Congress increased
appropriations to FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program by 30% in FY2009, from $153
million to $200 million, the most ever appropriated for the program in a fiscal year.
49 National Bureau of Economic Research, Determination of the December 2007 Peak in Economic Activity, December
11, 2008, http://www.nber.org/cycles/dec2008.pdf.
50 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment in December 2008, January 13, 2009,
51 Mortgage Bankers Association, National Delinquency Survey, First Quarter 2007, data as of March 31, 2007, p. 3,
and National Delinquency Survey, Third Quarter 2008, data as of September 30, 2008, p. 3.
52 For more information, see CRS Report RL33775, Alternative Mortgages: Causes and Policy Implications of
Troubled Mortgage Resets in the Subprime and Alt-A Markets, by Edward V. Murphy.
53 For more information about attempts to estimate the number of homeless individuals, see CRS Report RL33956,
Counting Homeless Persons: Homeless Management Information Systems, by Libby Perl.
54 See, for example, Trymaine Lee, “Families With Children in City Shelters Soar to Record Level,” New York Times,
December 23, 2008, p. A-27; C.W. Nevius, “More on Streets Newly Homeless,” San Francisco Chronicle, December
16, 2008, p. B1; and Michael Drost, “Changing Face of Homelessness,” Washington Times, December 14, 2008.
55 Barbara Duffield and Phillip Lovell, The Economic Crisis Hits Home: The Unfolding Increase in Child and Youth
Homelessness, National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, December 2008,
56 U.S. Conference of Mayors, Hunger and Homelessness Survey, December 2008, p. 13,
In 2002, the Bush Administration established a national goal of ending chronic homelessness
within 10 years, by 2012. A chronically homeless individual is “an unaccompanied homeless
individual with a disabling condition who has been continually homeless for a year or more, or 57
has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.” An impetus behind the
initiative to end chronic homelessness is that chronically homeless individuals are estimated to
account for about 10% of all users of the homeless shelter system, but are estimated to use nearly 58
The idea of a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness began as a part of a 10-year plan to end
homelessness in general, adopted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) in
2000. The following year, then-HUD Secretary Martinez announced HUD’s commitment to
ending chronic homelessness at the NAEH annual conference. In 2002, as a part of his FY2003
budget, President Bush made “ending chronic homelessness in the next decade a top objective.”
The bi-partisan, congressionally mandated Millennial Housing Commission, in its Report to
Congress in 2002, included ending chronic homelessness in 10 years among its principal 59
recommendations. By 2003, the Interagency Council on Homelessness had been re-engaged 60
after six years of inactivity and was charged with pursuing the President’s 10-year plan. As of
the date of this report, 49 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, 61
and nearly 350 cities and counties have developed ten-year plans to end chronic homelessness.
Permanent supportive housing is generally seen as a solution to ending chronic homelessness.62
Permanent supportive housing consists of low-cost housing, paired with social services, available
to low-income and/or homeless households. Services can include case management, substance
abuse counseling, mental health services, income management and support, and life skills
services. Providing permanent supportive housing to homeless adults with mental illnesses or
substance abuse disorders is sometimes referred to as the “housing first” approach − housing is
found for homeless individuals prior to treatment of their illnesses and addictions. In the late
1990s, research began to show that finding housing for homeless individuals with severe mental
illnesses meant that they were less likely to be housed temporarily by more expensive public 63
services, such as hospitals, jails, or prisons. More recently, a HUD study of three housing first
57 24 C.F.R. § 91.5.
58 Randall Kuhn and Dennis Culhane, “Applying Cluster Analysis to Test a Typology of Homelessness by Pattern of
Shelter Utilization: Results from the Analysis of Administrative Data,” American Journal of Community Psychology,
vol. 26, no. 2 (April 1998), p. 219.
59 The report is available at http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/mhc/MHCReport.pdf. See pp. 54-56.
60 The Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) was created in 1987 in the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless
Assistance Act, P.L. 100-77. Its mission is to coordinate the national response to homelessness. The ICH is composed
of the directors of 18 federal departments and agencies whose policies and programs have some responsibility for
homeless services, including HUD, HHS, DOL, and the VA.
61 For a list of cities and counties with ten-year plans, see the Interagency Council on Homelessness website,
http://www.usich.gov/slocal/10-year-plan-communities.pdf. For a list of states with ten-year plans, see
62 Report from the Secretary’s Work Group on Ending Chronic Homelessness, Ending Chronic Homelessness:
Strategies for Action, Department of Health and Human Services, March 2003, pp. 12-13,
63 See Dennis Culhane, Stephen Metraux, and Trevor Hadley, “Public Service Reductions Associated with Placement
of Homeless Persons with Severe Mental Illness in Supportive Housing,” Housing Policy Debate, vol. 13, no. 1 (2002):
programs found that during a one-year period, 43% of clients remained in housing during the
entire twelve-month period. Another 41% stayed intermittently, ultimately returning to the 64
housing first programs before the end of the year. The study also looked at health outcomes; it
found little change in psychiatric impairment among those who stayed in housing permanently or 65
intermittently and some decrease in participants’ levels of impairment related to substance use.
The Administration has undertaken several projects to reach its goal of ending chronic
homelessness in 10 years. Most recently, in August 2005, HUD announced a pilot program called
Housing for People Who Are Homeless and Addicted to Alcohol to provide supportive housing for
chronically homeless persons (those who have been homeless for at least 365 days during a five-
year period) and who have a long-term addiction to alcohol. The initiative awarded two-year 66
grants totaling just under $10 million to 12 grantees for FY2005. According to the Interagency
Council on Homelessness, the program has provided supportive housing to over 500 homeless 67
Two collaborative efforts to end chronic homelessness, undertaken by several federal agencies,
began in 2003. The Collaborative Initiative to Help End Chronic Homelessness, announced on
October 1, 2003, is a grant initiative initially funded at $35 million through the joint efforts of
HUD, HHS, and VA. Specifically, $20 million in HUD funds was made available to provide
permanent supportive housing under the SHP, S+C, or SRO programs; $7 million was made
available through HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency to fund substance
abuse treatment and mental health and related social services for chronically homeless
individuals; $3 million was available through HHS’s Health Resources and Services
Administration to provide primary care for chronically homeless individuals; and $5 million in
additional resources was made available at local VA hospitals for serving homeless veterans. By
2005 HHS had dedicated an additional $20 million to the initiative. The Collaborative Initiative
has enrolled 1,242 individuals in the program, of whom an estimated 89% remained housed 12 68
months after entering the program. Ending Chronic Homelessness through Employment and
Housing, another initiative from 2003, is a collaborative grant offered jointly by HUD and the
Department of Labor (DOL). The initiative offered $10 million from HUD and $3.5 million from
DOL to help chronically homeless individuals in five communities gain access to employment 69
and permanent housing.
In addition, HUD has encouraged the development of housing for chronically homeless
individuals in the way that it distributes the Homeless Assistance Grants to applicants through its
annual grant competition. HUD awards points to applicants if their Continuums of Care (the
geographic entities that collectively apply to HUD for funds) have developed 10-year plans to end
64 Carol L. Pearson, Gretchen Locke, Ann Elizabeth Montgomery, and Larry Buron, The Applicability of Housing First
Models to Homeless Persons with Serious Mental Illness, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, July
2007, p. 62, http://www.huduser.org/Publications/pdf/hsgfirst.pdf. The sample size in the study was 80 individuals.
65 Ibid., pp. 83-84 and 88-89.
66 For a list of grantees see Federal Register, vol. 71, no. 167, August 29, 2006, p. 51207.
67 U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness e-newsletter, March 6, 2007, http://www.ich.gov/newsletter/archive/03-
68 Alvin S. Mares and Robert A. Rosenheck, Evaluation of the Collaborative Initiative to Help End Chronic
Homelessness, Northeast Program Evaluation Center, February 26, 2007, pp. 32-33,
69 These cities are Portland, OR, Boston, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles. See the Department of Labor
chronic homelessness. In addition, under HUD’s Samaritan Housing Initiative, Continuums of
Care can receive additional funds for permanent supportive housing projects for chronically
The initiative to end chronic homelessness has raised some concerns among advocates for
homeless people that allocating resources to chronically homeless individuals is done at the 70
expense of families with children who are homeless. This concern may become more acute if
the downturn in the economy puts more low-income families at risk of homelessness. In the
FY2008 appropriation for HUD, Congress set aside funds for a “rapid re-housing” demonstration,
a process targeted to assist homeless families with dependent children that have one or more
moderate barriers to achieving and maintaining permanent housing. In addition, legislation in the th
110 Congress proposed to change the definition of a chronically homeless person to include
families with an adult head of household who has a disability (currently only “unaccompanied
individuals” are considered chronically homeless). These bills included the Homeless Emergency
Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act (H.R. 840 and H.R. 7221) and the
Community Partnership to End Homelessness Act (S. 1518).
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, administered by HUD, are the primary
federal source of funds to develop and support housing for homeless individuals, including
emergency, transitional, and permanent housing. The grants consist of the Emergency Shelter
Grants (ESG), the Supportive Housing Program (SHP), Shelter Plus Care (S+C), and the Section
These programs are discussed earlier in this report, in the section entitled “Homeless Assistance
Grants.” The Homeless Assistance Grants have not been authorized since FY1994, though they 71
have continued to be funded through annual appropriations.
In recent years, Congress has considered legislation to reauthorize the Homeless Assistance thth
Grants, and similar legislation may be introduced in the 111 Congress. In the 110 Congress,
both the full House and the Senate Banking Committee passed legislation that would have 72
reauthorized the four grants and made significant changes to the way in which they operate. The
two bills would have consolidated the three competitive homeless assistance grants (S+C, SHP,
and SRO) into one grant program. This same consolidation proposal was also made in budget
requests from President Bush in each year from FY2003 through FY2009. HUD has indicated
70 See, for example, the House Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity,
Hearing on Reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Part II, 110th Cong., 2nd sess., October
16, 2007, http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_house_hearings&docid=f:39908.pdf.
71 The programs were last authorized in 1994 at $635,672,100. Of this amount, $1,563,000 was authorized for the
Interagency Council on Homelessness, $143,796,000 for the ESG program, $212,568,000 for SHP, and $277,745,100
for S+C and SRO programs.
72 These bills were the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act (H.R. 840
and H.R. 7221) and the Community Partnership to End Homelessness Act (S. 1518). S. 1518 was introduced on May
24, 2007, and was approved by the Senate Banking Committee on September 19, 2007. H.R. 840 was introduced on
February 6, 2007, and was approved by the House Financial Services Committee on July 31, 2008. Many differences
between H.R. 840 and S. 1518 were resolved at the Financial Services Committee markup. Then, on September 29,
2008, another bill, H.R. 7221, also called the HEARTH Act, was introduced in the House; on October 2, 2008, the
House passed H.R. 7221. The new HEARTH Act was similar to S. 1518.
that the consolidation of the three competitive grant programs would significantly streamline
homeless assistance in the United States. Among other changes, the number of applications that
HUD would be required to review would be reduced from about 6,000 to less than 500, and 73
match requirements and eligible activities would be unified under one program.
Additional proposed changes to the Homeless Assistance Grants in the 110th Congress included
renewing permanent housing contracts through the Section 8 program rather than through the
funds made available for the Homeless Assistance Grants; allowing more funds to be used for
homelessness prevention activities (currently only ESG funds may be used for prevention);
creating a separate process for rural communities to apply for the competitive Homeless
Assistance Grants; and giving communities a greater say in how to use their funds to address
Another issue addressed in reauthorization legislation was the definition of homelessness. As
discussed earlier in the report, in the section entitled “Defining Homelessness,” under the current
HUD definition, a homeless individual is one who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime
residence and who resides in a temporary shelter (including transitional housing for the mentally
ill), an institution (with qualifications), or a place not designed for human habitation. The two th
reauthorization bills in the 110 Congress would have broadened the definition. In the Senate, the
Community Partnership to End Homelessness Act (S. 1518) would have expanded the definition
of homeless individual to include individuals and families who are sharing housing, but those
doubled-up households would also be required to (1) lack the resources to pay for decent and safe
housing, (2) only be permitted to remain in the shared housing for a short period of time, (3) have
moved three or more times in the past year or at least two times within the last 21 days, and (4)
not be able to make a significant financial contribution toward the shared housing. S. 1518 also
would have included among homeless individuals those persons residing in a hotel or motel, with
the same reservations as those sharing housing, however. In addition, S. 1518 would have
changed the definition of chronically homeless person to include families with an adult member
who has a disability (currently only unaccompanied individuals are included). The definition also
would have included persons released from institutions as long as, prior to entering the institution,
they otherwise met the definition of chronically homeless person and had been institutionalized
for fewer than 90 days. The House bill, the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition
to Housing (HEARTH) Act (H.R. 7221) similarly would have changed the definition of
Under H.R. 7221 as passed by the House, a person or family would have been considered
homeless if they would “imminently lose” their housing, if they had no other place to go, and if
they lacked resources to obtain other housing. Imminent loss of housing would have been
evidenced by an eviction requiring an individual or family to leave their housing within 14 days,
a lack of resources allowing an individual or family to remain in a hotel for more than 14 days, or
credible evidence that an individual or family would not be able to stay with another homeowner
or renter for more than 14 days. The bill also would have considered homeless anyone who is
fleeing a situation of domestic violence or other life-threatening condition. In addition, H.R. 7221
would have allowed communities to serve families with children or unaccompanied youth who
are defined as homeless by other federal programs under certain circumstances (for example the
Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, Head Start, and the Runaway and
73 FY2009 HUD Budget Justifications, Department of Community Planning and Development, p. 65,
Homeless Youth program). These circumstances would have included situations where
unaccompanied youth or families with children had experienced a long-term period without
permanent housing, had experienced instability due to frequent moves, and could be expected to
remain unstably housed due to chronic disabilities, chronic physical health or mental health
conditions, substance addiction, histories of domestic violence or childhood abuse, the presence
of a child or youth with a disability, or multiple barriers to employment.
Five bills containing provisions that amend or make additions to programs that assist homeless th
individuals were enacted in the 110 Congress.
The Veterans’ Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008 (S. 2162) was signed
into law as P.L. 110-387 on October 10, 2008. As introduced, the bill did not contain provisions to
assist homeless veterans. However, prior to passage by the Senate, which occurred on June 3,
2008, several sections were added to the bill that affect homeless veterans programs. The House
further amended the homelessness provisions and passed the bill on September 27, 2008. After
the Senate agreed to the House amendments, the bill was signed into law. The new law increased
the authorization for the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program to $150 million. In
addition, it extended the Program for Referral and Counseling for Veterans Transitioning from
Certain Institutions through FY2012, removed its demonstration status, and expanded the number
of sites able to provide services to twelve. The name of the program was also changed slightly to
“Referral and Counseling Services: Veterans at Risk of Homelessness Who Are Transitioning
from Certain Institutions.” P.L. 110-387 also added a provision to the statute governing the
Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans program requiring the Secretary to “take appropriate
actions to ensure that the domiciliary care programs of the Department are adequate, with respect
to capacity and with respect to safety, to meet the needs of veterans who are women.”
Another provision in P.L. 110-387 authorized a program of supportive services to assist very low-
income veteran families who either are making the transition from homelessness to housing or
who are moving from one location to another. The law authorized $15 million for FY2009, $20
million for FY2010, and $25 million for FY2011. Funds are to be distributed to private nonprofit
organizations and consumer cooperatives − the entities that will provide supportive services −
through a competitive process. Those organizations that assist families transitioning from
homelessness will be given priority for funding. Among the eligible services recipient
organizations may provide are case management, health care services, daily living services,
assistance with financial planning, transportation, legal assistance, child care, and housing
The Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-378), enacted on October 8, 2008,
reauthorized the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program from FY2009 through FY2013. The
legislation authorized FY2009 appropriation levels for the Basic Center Program, Transitional
Living Program, and related activities that exceed the levels authorized for FY2004 by $35
million (these are the only recent years for which Congress has specified authorized appropriation
levels). The law also increased the authorized annual minimum levels of BCP funding available
for states and territories. Further, P.L. 110-378 permits youth to remain in a program funded under
the BCP and TLP longer than they were able to under the prior law, although the law imposes
additional criteria for youth who stay longer at TLP-funded programs. The law also changed the
definition of homeless youth to permit youth older than age 18 and 22 to stay at BCP- and TLP-
funded programs, respectively, but only under certain circumstances.
The new law requires HHS to periodically submit to Congress an incidence and prevalence study
of runaway and homeless youth ages 13 to 26, as well as the characteristics of a representative
sample of these youth. HHS must consult with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness in
developing the study. The law also directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to
evaluate the process by which organizations apply for BCP, TLP, and SOP, including HHS’s
response to these applicants. GAO is to submit a report on its findings to Congress.
On August 14, 2008, the President signed the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA; P.L.
110-315). The bill amended the Higher Education Act (HEA) to authorize services for currently
or formerly homeless children and youth, as defined under the Education for Homeless Children
and Youth program. The HEOA specifies that homeless children and youth (and youth in foster
care, including youth who have left foster care after reaching age 16) are eligible for what are
collectively called the federal Trio programs. These programs are designed to identify potential
post-secondary students from disadvantaged backgrounds, prepare them for post-secondary
education, provide certain support services to these students while they are in post-secondary
education, and train individuals who provide these services. P.L. 110-315 directs the Department
of Education to require applicants seeking Trio funds to identify and make available services −
including mentoring, tutoring and other services − to homeless children and youth. P.L. 110-315
further authorized that funds allotted through one of the Trio programs, Student Support Services,
may be used to provide temporary housing during breaks in the academic year for homeless
children and youth. Separately, the HEOA allows the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary
Education to establish demonstration projects that provide comprehensive support services for
students who were homeless anytime before age 13 (or in foster care), to enable them to enroll
and succeed in postsecondary education.
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, signed into law on July 30, 2008 (P.L. 110-
289), included a provision increasing the authorization for the McKinney-Vento Education for
Homeless Children and Youth Program from $70 million to $100 million for FY2009, and such
sums as may be necessary for each subsequent fiscal year. If appropriated funds for the program
are greater than $70 million, this provision authorizes the Secretary to award emergency grants
(not to exceed $30 million) to State Education Agencies (SEAs) based on need, to assist children
and youth who have become homeless due to foreclosure. SEAs would then award these grants to
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) on that basis of their need for such awards. Determination of
need is to be based on the number of children, youth, and their families who have become
homeless due to foreclosure of their home or rental property.
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (P.L. 110-84), signed into law on September 27,
2007, amended the Higher Education Act to deem a student independent for financial aid
purposes if the student is verified as both homeless and unaccompanied (defined as youth not in 74
the physical custody of a parent or guardian). The verification is to be made by a local education
agency liaison for homeless children; a director of an emergency shelter program; or a financial
74 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(6).
Table 1 shows final appropriation levels for FY2005-FY2008 for all of the targeted homeless
programs included in this report except for programs administered by the VA. The appropriations
figures come from the budget justifications submitted by the various agencies or congressional
appropriations documents. Table 2 shows actual and estimated obligations for the Department of
Veterans Affairs targeted homeless programs for FY2004-FY2008. The figures in Table 2 were
obtained from VA budget documents and conversations with VA employees.
Table 1. Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs Appropriations, FY2005-FY2008
($ in thousands)
Program Agencies FY2005 FY2006 FY2007 FY2008
Education for Homeless Children & Youth ED 62,496 61,871a 61,871 64,067b
Emergency Food & Shelter DHS/FEMA 153,000 151,470 151,470 153,000
Health Care for the Homelessc HHS 149,000 161,000 170,968 177,590b
Projects for Assistance in Transition from HHS 54,809 54,223 54,261 53,313b
Consolidated Runaway and Homeless Youth HHS 88,725 87,777 87,837 96,128b
—Runaway and Homeless Youth - Basic Center HHS 48,786 48,265 48,298 d
—Runaway and Homeless Youth - Transitional Living HHS 39,939 39,511 39,539 d
Runaway and Homeless Youth - Street Outreach HHS 15,178 15,017 15,027 17,221b
Homeless Assistance Grants HUD 1,240,511 1,326,600 1,441,600 1,585,990
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program DOL 20,832 21,780 21,809 23,620b
Transitional Housing Assistance for Child Victims of DOJ 14,840 14,808 14,847 17,390
Domestic Violence, Stalking, or Sexual Assaulte
Source: Table prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Unless otherwise stated, sources of data
were agency budget justifications and congressional appropriations documents. The amounts are enacted values
and do not necessarily include all rescissions for each program in each fiscal year.
Note: Italics indicate amount is subsumed under earlier line item.
a. P.L. 109-148provided supplemental FY2006 appropriations of $5 million for assistance to local educational
agencies serving homeless children and youth who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane
Rita; these funds are to be used “consistent with” the provisions of the McKinney-Vento Education for
Homeless Children and Youth program.
b. In the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 110-161, Division G, Section 528, an across-the-board
rescission of 1.747% was applied to nearly all Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and
Education programs. The values in the table reflect the rescission.
c. The Health Care for the Homeless Program is funded under the Health Resources and Services
Administration (HRSA), Community Health Centers program. The HCH program generally receives about
8.6% of the funds appropriated for the CHC program. The appropriation figures are based on this estimate.
d. As of the date of this report, it was not known how Consolidated Runaway and Homeless Youth funds
would be divided between the Basic Center and Transitional Living programs.
e. This funding is a set-aside under the VAWA STOP grant program.
Table 2. Homelessness: Targeted VA Program Obligations, FY2004-FY2008
($ in thousands)
FY2004 FY2005 FY2006 FY2007 FY2008
Program (actual) (actual) (actual) (actual) (estimate)
Health Care for Homeless Veterans a
(HCHV) 42,905 40,357 56,998 71,925 74,802
Homeless Providers Grants and Per b
Diem Program 62,965 62,180 63,621 81,187 107,180
Domiciliary Care for Homeless
Veterans (DCHV) 51,829 57,555 63,592 77,633 80,738
Program (CWT/TR) 10,240 10,004 19,529 21,514 22,375
Loan Guarantee for Transitional
Housing for Homeless Veterans 605 574 507 613 660
HUD VA Supported Housing (HUD-
VASH) 3,375 3,243 3,626 7,487 7,786
Source: Department of Veterans Affairs budget documents.
a. Includes funding for the Homeless Chronically Mentally Ill Veterans (HCMI) and the Homeless
Comprehensive Service Centers, including mobile centers. A specific breakdown of obligations among
activities is not available.
b. Does not include funding for Grant and Per Diem Liaisons.
BUFFER ZONE: DO NOT DELETE
Libby Perl, Coordinator Ramya Sundararaman
Analyst in Housing Analyst in Public Health
email@example.com, 7-7806 firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-7285
Adrienne L. Fernandes Francis X. McCarthy
Analyst in Social Policy Analyst in Emergency Management Policy
email@example.com, 7-9005 firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-9533
Garrine P. Laney Barbara English
Analyst in Social Policy Information Research Specialist
email@example.com, 7-2518 firstname.lastname@example.org, 7-1927
Specialist in Social Policy
Program Name Telephone and E-Mail
Education for Homeless Children and Youths Gail McCallion 7-7758
Emergency Food and Shelter program Francis X. McCarthy 7-9533
Health Centers for the Homeless Barbara English 7-1927
HUD programs and Homeless Veterans Libby Perl 7-7806
Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness Ramya Sundararaman 7-7285
Runaway and Homeless Youth programs Adrienne L. Fernandes 7-9005
Violence Against Women Act programs Garrine P. Laney 7-2518