HUD No. 05-125
September 13, 2005
JACKSON TO CHAIR U.S. INTERAGENCY COUNCIL ON HOMELESSNESS, CALLS FOR RECOMMITMENT TO NATIONAL GOAL TO END CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS
HUD cutting red tape to speed help to those made homeless by Hurricane Katrina
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today assumed the chairmanship of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, a coalition of 20 federal agencies and departments charged with ending long-term or chronic homelessness in America. Members of the interagency council elected Jackson to succeed Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary R. James Nicholson at a full council meeting held today in Washington.
Jackson pledged to fully commit himself to the Administration's goal of ending chronic homelessness for the hardest-to-serve homeless individuals who may also be living with a disability, mental illness or an addiction. He also pointed to those individuals and families made homeless for the first time in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Jackson called on member agencies to continue their close collaboration to assist the chronically homelessness as well as those evacuees from the Gulf region.
'Today, we are challenged as never before to create forward-thinking solutions to help those without a roof over their heads,' said Jackson. 'During this time of incredible need, HUD is answering President Bush's call and helping speed the delivery of resources to communities struggling to house and serve persons and families who are now homeless because of Hurricane Katrina.'
To help individuals and families made homeless by the hurricane, HUD is encouraging local public housing authorities around the country to find vacant housing units in their areas to temporarily house public housing residents from the Gulf Coast area. In addition, HUD stopped selling thousands of the Department's single-family properties in 11 states so they could be used to provide temporary homes to persons uprooted from their communities. HUD is working closely with another interagency council member, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to match these homes with persons and families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Other member agencies of the Interagency Council on Homelessness are also working closely with FEMA to speed relief to those made homeless from Hurricane Katrina. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services is committing $15 million to assist Head Start and Early Head Start grantees to provide services to evacuated children and families over the next 30 days. The Department of Labor is offering expanded employment services and other assistance including matching workers impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina with employers who want to hire them. In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs has established a toll free hotline for veterans requiring medical attention who would normally receive that care from VA facilities that have closed due to the hurricane.
Meanwhile, HUD continues to seek creative ways to make the Department's programs more accessible and flexible to communities experiencing increased homelessness because of the hurricane. For example, HUD suspended the 15 percent cap limiting the amount of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding a community can devote to support public services. While communities can still use CDBG funding for community development activities, local leaders in affected areas may find a greater need to fund service programs to help victims of Hurricane Katrina without a home of their own.
Through November 30, 2005, HUD is allowing local governments to quickly modify their formula programs by substantially cutting the 30-day public notice requirement to just three days. This will apply to all four of HUD's formula programs - CDBG, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).
HUD is relaxing its requirements for determining income eligibility for those assisted by the Department's HOME Program. Many low-income families whose homes were destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina will not have any documentation of their income to qualify them for assistance under the HOME Program or the American Dream Down payment Initiative (ADDI). For a period of one year, HUD is now allowing participating jurisdictions to self certify a recipient's income in order to provide assistance under these programs.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
Editor's note: For more information about the work of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, visit www.ich.gov.