Homeless Assistance help programs available from the US Federal Government
Homelessness, as defined in the HEART Act (where the definition of homelessness was enhanced to include people who are at imminent risk of losing their housing and who lack resources to obtain housing on their own), is a growing problem that is addressed in part by the federal government funding and grants to various programs and projects.
Due to the increase of the homeless persons in recent years and the complexities of this problem the Federal Government has been seeking to enhance the coordination among Federal and States’ agencies in using the grants appropriated for homelessness.
The new grants and special funding emphasize on programs that help families with children, elderly persons, veterans and people with disabilities.
Continuum of Care Programs
The Continuum of Care ( CoC ) are set of homeless assistance programs that are available to all individuals experiencing homelessness or are at imminent risk of becoming homeless. CoC is the network of local governments, institutions, non-profits that provide homeless assistance through grants awarded by HUD.
Supportive Housing Program (SHP)
- Federal Grant Program: SHP grants are given for three-year term. Grants award can be renewed for additional 1-3 years term.
- Grants available for new housing that will accommodate homeless persons and families are up to between $200,000-$400,000.
- Supportive Services offered homeless under this grant program: health care, transportation, childcare, job training, job placement
The Supportive Housing Program helps with housing and supportive services homeless persons who want to have more independent and stable living. The program is designed to help homeless people who are sleeping in places not meant to be nighttime residence, such as cars, sidewalks, parks, and abandoned buildings.
The grants of SHP are used to provide homeless beneficiaries with a stable housing and supportive services that can also help them increase their skills, income and independence.
There are many different causes and reasons for homelessness affecting different people with different needs. The SHP offers different options for homeless people who want to achieve more independent living. Since the causes of homelessness are many and complex, and the homeless people have different needs the SHP offers different approaches to serve the homeless population.
Here are the different ways the homeless individuals can benefit from the grants awarded under Supportive Housing Program.
The Transitional Housing offered under SHP
Transitional Housing helps homeless individuals and families to move from homelessness to permanent housing. The program offers eligible candidates transitional housing for up to 24 months plus supportive services such as childcare and job training.
Supportive Services Only under SHP
Some of the grant applicants might be able to offer only supportive services to homeless persons that already live in a permanent housing under SHP. This component of the SHP called Supportive Services Only allows for that. Example for this service are mobile vans for health care of homeless persons.
Permanent Housing for Persons with Disabilities under SHP
Provides permanent housing and supportive services for homeless persons with disabilities.
Safe Heavens services are offered under the SHP. This is a form of supportive housing intended to serve hard-to-reach homeless persons with severe mental disabilities who were unable or unwilling to apply for other type of housing and supportive services.
Shelter Plus Care Program (S+C)
Shelter Plus Care is a federal grant program for homeless individuals with disabilities, mostly people with serious mental illness, AIDS, or alcohol/drugs problems. S+C offers rental assistance plus supportive services for those hard-to-reach and hard-to-serve persons and their families. The program gives flexibility of its beneficiaries by providing variety of housing choices and a range of supportive services through its four components:
- Tenant-based Rental Assistance (TRA);
- Sponsor-based Rental Assistance (SRA);
- Project-based Rental Assistance with (PRAW)or without rehabilitation (PRA); and
- Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Program for Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Dwellings
Single Room Occupancy Program
Grants under this program are provided to incentivize owners of residential properties to rehabilitate them into multiple single room occupancy (SRO) units that will meet the housing standards required by the HUD. The SRO program helps homeless persons by providing rental assistance payments which is normally the difference between the 30% of the tenant’s income and the rent. At the same time the rental assistance, which is provided for a period of 10 years for each SRO unit, compensates owners’ rehabilitation expenses and helps brings more single room units to the local housing market designated to assist homeless individuals.
Emergency Shelter Grant Program – replaced by Emergency Solutions Grants Program
Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) was replaced by Emergency Solutions Grants Programs in 2011 as result of HEART Act. The change shifts the main focus from addressing the needs of homeless persons in emergency shelters to assisting people to quickly regain stability in permanent housing after a housing crisis or homelessness. Emergency Solutions Grants are available for homeless recipients through the following activities normally carried out by local governments and housing agencies:
Homelessness Prevention – grants can be used for rental application fees, security deposits, utility deposits and payments
Street Outreach – grants designated for street outreach can be used for emergency mental and health care, case management and services of special populations of homeless persons.
Emergency Shelter – grants of ESG may be used for services of the residents of emergency shelter facilities like child care, education, employment assistance and job training, legal services, mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Rapid Re-Housing Assistance – grants are used for short-terms and medium-term rental assistance for individuals and families at risk of becoming homeless.