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27th April
written by naehblog

In the homelessness world, we have a keen awareness of the need to link services with housing for homeless people with a lot of barriers to maintaining their housing. But at the federal level, getting the agencies that operate housing and services programs to coordinate their efforts has been a real challenge.

We also know that trying to end homelessness using only the resources provided by homeless specific programs won’t work. We need to find better ways to tap into “mainstream programs:” those programs that serve low-income people generally, and have much higher levels of funding.

The Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration Program was proposed by the Obama Administration, and it combines Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers funded by HUD with services provided by a combination of HHS programs, including a special grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and Medicaid.

Last week, the Alliance helped pull together a roundtable discussion between officials from HUD, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the White House, some key Congressional staff, and a Leadership Council, which consists of officials from several cities across the country who are working to end homelessness. The topic of conversation was a new proposal to combine housing subsidies with services to help end homelessness for 10,000 families and individuals.

The great thing about this demonstration program is that it tackles both the need to link services to housing and the need to tap into additional resources. It uses mainstream programs, including Section 8, TANF, and Medicaid, and it tries to bridge the HUD and HHS bureaucracies.

At the roundtable discussion and in various other meetings with Congressional and Administration officials, I’ve noticed that the people developing this program are deeply engaged in making it work and work well. They are asking the right questions, and they are going farther than the collaboration efforts of the past. It leaves me optimistic that even in this time of tight budgets and ridiculously high unemployment, we can do something that brings us a giant step closer to ending homelessness once and for all.


  1. BriAnne McKee

    This is wonderful news! Thanks for these helpful updates and overviews of the potential new voucher programs! Quick question – do you have the sources of the two studies that are referenced in the one-pager that the Alliance and CSH published (entitled "Fund the Administration's Housing & Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration in FY 2011, dated March 2010). These studies would be extremely helpful for us to cite locally as we're developing new PSH as well as trying to strengthen our connections to the education system. Thank you!

  2. Norm Suchar

    BriAnne, the sources are as follows

    Pre and post cost savings–$3,270 in Medicaid, $1,402 in Emergency Rooms, $4,966 in Behavioral Health, and $5,366 in Substance Abuse Detoxification services–is from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's FY 2011 Budget Justifications (link: See page j-21).

    For the statistic on voucher assistance resulting in a reduction in family homelessness of 74 percent, the source is "Housing Affordability and Family Well Being: Results from the Housing Voucher Evaluation," which was published in 2008 in Housing Policy Debate, 19, 367-412. The authors of that study were Michelle Wood, Jennifer Turnham, and Gregory Mills.

    If you want more data on these topics, I would highly recommend these two documents: