It’s an interesting time to be working on ending homelessness.
The economy is terrible and creating havoc for a lot of people. Rising unemployment tends to lead to more homelessness – and this recession has had a lot of unemployment.
At the same time, there are some opportunities to make progress. Congress passed an almost $800 billion economic stimulus bill in the spring: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It includes $1.5 billion Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).
This summer, HUD gave HPRP grants to all 50 states and about 500 cities, counties, and territories. The three-year grants ranged from about $500,000 for smaller cities to $74 million for New York City. These local governments will pass on most of their funds to nonprofit organizations to provide several types of financial assistance and services with the goal of preventing homelessness or helping somebody who has become homeless move into an apartment. Here are some examples of what HPRP will be funding:
- Up to 18 months of rental assistance, including up to six months of overdue rent;
- Up to 18 months of utility assistance;
- Moving costs; and
- Rental or utility deposits;
- Housing search assistance including help finding apartments and negotiating with landlords;
- Case management;
- Help applying for and coordinating other services such as employment, child care, etc.
- Legal services; and
- Credit repair services.
There is strong evidence that when done smartly, these kinds of programs can reduce homelessness. You can see some examples in this nice little video about the HomeBase program in New York City and this short summary about Rapid Exit in Hennepin County, MN.