President Barack Obama’s administration has already made moves to help the nation’s homeless. Last month, the President awarded nearly $1.6 billion in homeless grants to thousands of local housing and service programs across the nation. The funds, administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Continuum of Care programs, will help hundreds of thousands of homeless individuals and families find stable homes and much-needed services. An additional $1.5 billion in funding has been earmarked for homeless prevention as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was signed into law by President Obama.
During a time of record home foreclosures and unemployment, this assistance could not have come at a more critical time. It’s estimated about 6,300 projects that assist the homeless will benefit from the HUD grants. Here in Michigan, we have been hit harder economically than most other states. With an 11.6% unemployment rate, many families in our state are losing dual incomes and facing homelessness. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offers quick housing assistance to those dealing with a sudden economic crisis — especially families with children. The recovery plan includes short-term rental assistance, housing relocation, or security and utility deposits. A pilot program to rapidly re-house homeless families will be created in the Kalamazoo County/Portage area.
Specifically, the HUD homeless grants will be awarded to programs that target:
- Chronic homelessness
- Permanent housing solutions
- Families with children
- Homeless veterans
- Housing and support services for severely mentally ill clients
- Homeless individuals with substance abuse problems
This encouraging news of additional homeless funding from the Obama administration comes as we watch in amazement as a “Tent City” takes shape in Sacramento, California. The pictures are unbelievable. So are the numbers. Each week, 20 to 50 people are setting up tents along Sacramento’s American River Parkway. They are people who have lost their homes and jobs and have no where else to go. What a sad sign of the times. I’ll write more about this later.