The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides the majority of funding for homeless assistance programs across the country. These programs provide direct housing grants or rental subsidies to homeless individuals and families. HUD also provides grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to develop their own homeless housing assistance programs in their communities. Contact the local housing authority to find out about programs available in your area.
Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program
HUD's Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program helps homeless families and those at-risk of becoming homeless secure permanent housing. To qualify for help, the family's income cannot exceed 50 percent of the area median income. The family can get help with up to 18 months of rental and utility payments, and money to pay for a security deposit or other moving expenses. If housing is not readily available, a motel voucher can be provided for up to 30 days while the family transitions to permanent housing.
Single Room Occupancy
HUD also provides a rental subsidy to landlords who make their housing available to homeless individuals. A single-room occupancy is a housing unit with a bathroom, or kitchen, or both. To participate in the program, the landlord must make $3,000 in repairs to convert the housing unit into an SRO. Tenants are responsible for paying 30 percent of their incomes toward rent. HUD pays the remaining portion. The landlord can receive the rental subsidy for up to 10 years.
Homeless Veteran Housing
HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs partner to provide Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to homeless veterans. The vouchers pay for a portion of a veteran's rent. To qualify for help, the veteran must lack a fixed nighttime residence. Veterans who have a history of substance abuse or mental illness are appropriate candidates for this program because participation in case management services are a requirement. This helps ensure that the veteran can maintain his residential stability. The VA also has a program for homeless veteran families. The Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program provides grants to families to pay for rent, a security deposit and other moving expenses. The family can qualify to receive help with child care, transportation services or housing counseling. To qualify for help, the family's income cannot exceed 50 percent of the area median income.
HUD's Supportive Services program was created under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. The program provides housing as well as support services to help the homeless maintain an independent lifestyle. HUD provides Supportive Housing grants to states, local governments, public housing agencies, nonprofit organizations and community mental health associations. Grantees may structure their housing programs in accordance with what best suits the needs of their communities. For example, a transitional housing program allows tenants to receive housing assistance for up to 24 months along with supportive services such as child care or job skills training. Other programs may offer permanent supportive housing for those with severe mental illness.
Davina Price has been writing since 2003, specializing in grant and technical writing for government and nonprofit organizations. She currently is a licensed real-estate agent in Southern California and specializes in working with first-time home buyers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Southern California.