Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation

Source: Libby Perl, Erin Bagalman, Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara, Elayne J. Heisler, Gail McCallion, Francis X. McCarthy, Lisa N. Sacco, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, RL30442, June 7, 2013

The causes of homelessness and determining how best to assist those who find themselves homeless became particularly prominent, visible issues in the 1980s. The concept of homelessness may seem like a straightforward one, with individuals and families who have 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. …

…A number of federal programs in seven different agencies, many originally authorized by the McKinney-Vento Act, serve homeless persons. These include the Education for Homeless Children and Youth 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 multiple programs that serve homeless individuals, including Health Care for the Homeless, Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth 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 addition, this report discusses federal efforts to end homelessness. 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….