Home | En Español | Contact Us | A to Z 

HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 02-078
Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685, x 7527

For Release
July 18, 2002

Interagency Council on Homelessness
HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, Chairman
Philip Mangano, Executive Director

New plan will better coordinate federal response to homelessness

WASHINGTON - Fifteen years after enactment of the historic McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, President Bush's newly reactivated Interagency Council on Homelessness is announcing a new strategy to better coordinate the nation's response to homelessness. Included in the comprehensive plan is a unique collaboration between three federal agencies that would provide $35 million in permanent housing and critical services to long-term homeless individuals. The funding will include $20 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), $10 million from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and $5 million from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

[Secretary Martinez chairs first meeting of interagency council in six years.]
Secretary Martinez chairs first meeting of interagency council in six years.
The announcement was made by HUD Secretary Mel Martinez; HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson; VA Secretary Anthony Principi; and, Philip Mangano, executive director of the Interagency Council. Last year, Bush reactivated the Council, which will coordinate the activities of 18 federal agencies that assist homeless individuals and families and to concentrate more effort into the prevention of homelessness. Today's meeting was the first time the Council has met in six years.

"I am proud to announce this Administration's new approach to confronting the homeless challenge," said Martinez, who serves as Council chairman. "For too many years, Washington waited until a person became homeless before taking action. Today we come together to commit the resources of HUD, HHS and VA as we move beyond managing homelessness toward a more holistic approach including a greater emphasis at preventing individuals from becoming homeless in the first place."

"Every year, approximately 2 million people will experience homelessness and approximately 200,000 will be chronically homeless," said Thompson. "We must improve access to and coordination of essential health and social services to prevent new episodes of homelessness from occurring. At HHS, we are committed to the President's goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years. We look forward to working with the Interagency Council on this important task."

Principi said, "I am looking forward to working with the Council to end homelessness among veterans and, ultimately, to work together to eliminate chronic homelessness in America."

"Today's announcements speak to the commitment of this Administration to end homelessness for our most vulnerable neighbors," said Mangano. "In collaboration, a number of federal agencies are creating innovative initiatives that will bring change in the lives of those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness and change on the streets of our country."

A critical component of addressing the needs homeless persons is to provide an opportunity for individuals and families to find a permanent place to live. The funding announced today will be directed to provide permanent housing and support services to long-term homeless individuals and families.

Research confirms that approximately 10 percent of the nation's homeless are so-called chronically homeless - often suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. Though a fraction of the overall homeless population, the chronically homeless account for more than half the resources designed to meet the needs of the entire homeless population.* For this reason, President Bush has made it a national goal to move toward ending chronic homelessness in ten years.

In addition to the funding proposed today, the Bush Administration is announcing a multi-faceted approach toward meeting the goal of ending chronic homelessness in America.


For decades, the common strategy toward helping homeless persons was to move those in need through a system of care and toward permanent housing. Since 1987, for example, nearly $11 billion from HUD's homeless assistance programs have helped hundreds of thousands of men, women and families to leave homelessness while thousands of others have come into homelessness. Modern research confirms prevention is critical if this nation is to have a comprehensive, holistic approach to the homeless problem.

In another example of interagency collaboration, the Department of Justice is joining with HUD, HHS, VA and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education and Labor in Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative to identify at-risk persons and provide services BEFORE they become homeless. The purpose of this $100 million program is to prepare offenders for life outside of prison and youth correctional facilities. This initiative provides approximately $2 million to states to create a reentry strategy that reduces homelessness among ex-offenders. The costs associated with prevention and early intervention are significantly lower than the cost of providing emergency services once a person becomes homeless.

Greater Access to Mainstream Services

Currently 14 federal programs totaling $2.2 billion a year help homeless persons in America, including more than $1 billion annually from HUD. Only a fraction of homeless individuals and families, however, have sufficient access to approximately $500 billion in mainstream services including Medicaid, TANF, Food Stamps, and mental health and drug/alcohol addiction programs.

To provide greater access to these significant mainstream services, HUD, HHS and VA are sponsoring a series of regional "policy academies" across the country for state and local governments. These policy academies will now be offered to every state to provide local leaders the technical assistance they need to direct these necessary services toward homeless persons.


While homelessness impacts entire communities, children are especially affected. Homeless children often do not receive the proper education that comes from a stable home environment, often moving from classroom to classroom as their families' circumstances change.

As part of the President's "No Child Left Behind" initiative, the Department of Education is creating a liaison for homeless children in every school district in America. By having a dedicated person to assist homeless families, local schools can better serve children who have heretofore been underserved in schools. These liaisons will be responsible for ensuring these children have the access to the educational resources they will need to break the cycle of homelessness.

Community and Faith-Based Involvement

Recognizing that grassroots community and faith-based organizations are already providing a network of social service to meet the needs of the homeless, President Bush is attempting to remove existing barriers that preclude the participation of these important groups in federal funding opportunities. By rallying these "armies of compassion," the Administration hopes to tap into a crucial resource that, when leveraged with federal and other public-private resources, will further assist individuals and families without a home.

Background on the Interagency Council

Congress established the Interagency Council in 1987 with the passage of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. Over the past six years, however, the Council was relatively dormant. Last year, President Bush reactivated the Interagency Council to better coordinate the activities of 18 federal agencies that currently involved in assisting the homeless. In addition, HUD, HHS and VA formed a joint task force to study and improve the way these agencies respond to the various needs of homeless individuals and families. Get more information on the work of the Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Learn more about a new Federal response to help the homeless.



Content Archived: April 9, 2010

FOIA Privacy Web Policies and Important Links [logo: Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity]
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112 TTY: (202) 708-1455

* May 2001, Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, University of Pennsylvania. Dennis Culhane, Stephen Metraux and Trevor Hadley