Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced on Friday that his agency is turning to money appropriated for its fiscal year 2018 budget to provide $2 billion in grants for homeless programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories.
Carson told reporters on a conference call that HUD had felt the pinch from the partial government shutdown that President Donald Trump ended Friday, but money Congress has already appropriated to the agency was used to fund the grants.
“They are certain programs … that are critical to the safety and health of the individuals and families we serve,” Carson said on the call. “That’s why HUD is making sure our homeless assistance grants — we call them Continuum of Care Grants — go forward.”
Carson said state programs depend on federal financial assistance to help the estimated half a million people who experience homelessness “on any given night,” in the United States.
“Renewing these grants will allow these providers to continue their work …. and serve our most vulnerable neighbors,” Carson said.
In December, HUD released its 2018 annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. It shows only a 0.3 percent increase in homelessness from the previous year. But some homeless populations saw a decrease — a development Carson lauded.
The number of homeless veterans fell by 5.4 percent, and homeless families with children decreased by 2.7 percent.
On a state-by-state level, 31 states and the District of Columbia have experienced a decrease in homelessness, while 19 percent have seen an increase, according to the report.
Carson said the grants are part of a public/private partnership with the goal to “end homelessness.” This can be accomplished through action, such as dealing with zoning restrictions and educating the public about housing assistance programs. Carson said:
This is a joint effort between the federal government and the local government to remove those obstacles and also to educate people. Educating people is critical because a lot of people when they think about government assistance for housing they think about these gigantic complexes that the government comes in and builds without any appropriate support and then leaves and they start deteriorating.
“The government doesn’t do that anymore,” Carson said.
Carson said the new strategy is using private and public investments to develop smaller, mixed-income housing under local jurisdiction, “without disrupting the character of the neighborhood.”
The amount of the HUD grants ranges from California with the largest at $381,008,456 for 694 projects, followed by New York, $196,623,135 for 475 projects, and $164,698 for three projects in the Virgin Islands. the press release announcing the grants said:
HUD Continuum of Care grant funding supports a broad array of interventions designed to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness, particularly those living in places not meant for habitation, located in sheltering programs, or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Each year, HUD serves more than a million people through emergency shelter, transitional, and permanent housing programs.
You can view the complete list of grants here.