The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Monday that it will provide an estimated $2.8 billion for homeless services throughout the United states.
The funding comes as HUD released a report earlier this year which said more than 326,000 people experienced sheltered homelessness in the United States on a single night in 2021.
“Every person deserves to live with dignity and security in safe, stable, and affordable home,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge in a statement. “Coupled with the historic resources in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the Continuum of Care Program grants made available by HUD today will help more Americans experiencing homelessness move into homes and access critical supportive services like health care, education, and job training.”
The agency will allocate the funding through the competitive Continum of Care program, which is how some state and local agencies tap into federal funding. Access to the Continuum of Care funding will also be expanded to welcome applicants from Native American tribes and internal tribal housing support programs.
HUD said it wants projects that deal with improving system performances, advance racial equity and works to eliminate racial disparities in the homelessness response.
It also aims to offer funding to providers who “engage people with lived experience of homelessness in decision-making,” HUD said.
The agency also wants to support contracts that bolster local engagement in order to increase the supply of affordable housing. In addtion, the agency said wants its projects to go to homeless service providers who employ a Housing First approach to housing, as well as ensure the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t face discrimination while applying for housing services.
The announcement explicitly said it will offer funding for “survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.”
“Approximately $80 million is available for non-competitive Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) renewal and replacement expiring grants,” HUD said.
Among other projects, the agency plans to focus on decriminalizing homelessness, an issue many housing advocates have spoken out against. Other priorities in the funding include an emphasis on racial equity and anti-discrimination polices for LGTBQ+ individuals.
“Nationwide, people without housing are ticketed, arrested, and jailed under laws that treat their life-sustaining conduct—such as sleeping or sitting down—as civil or criminal offenses, the National Homelessness Law Center said in its 2019 report, “‘Housing not Handcuffs.’”
“HUD and the [Biden] administration continues to prioritize equity in homelessness efforts and the humane treatment of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, and the funding announced today will help communities do just that,” Secretary Fudge said.
In March, the Biden administration released its plan to “Ease the Burden of Housing Costs," which aims to provide more affordable housing nationwide. The U.S. is already experiencing a shortage of seven million homes, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.