HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 07-109
Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685
For Release
July 18, 2007

Landmark legislation credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives

WASHINGTON - On July 22, 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act which created more than a dozen federal programs designed to offer a modern system of care for homeless individuals and families. Twenty years later, McKinney-Vento's legacy is credited with housing and serving hundreds of thousands of persons who would otherwise be living on the nation's streets. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today recognized this important anniversary during a White House faith-based roundtable on homelessness.

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administers five programs authorized under this Act, providing a critical lifeline to homeless individuals and families. Prior to this groundbreaking legislation, the federal government's approach to homelessness was designed as a short-term response to the problem. McKinney-Vento recognized that a long-term investment was needed to provide housing and supportive services to the homeless.

"We've come a long way from where we were 20 years ago, not only in terms of understanding homelessness, but how we confront it," said Jackson. "This landmark law continues to be a lifeline for those living on the streets and in our shelters. But we can't rest on our laurels. Now, 20 years later, we must continue to work to end the revolving door for those who are homeless as a way of life."

This year alone, McKinney-Vento programs administered by HUD will award approximately $1.5 billion to support thousands of local housing and service programs across America. Since 2001, HUD has awarded more than $9 billion and is seeking a record $1.6 billion for FY 2008.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Secretary Mike Leavitt serves as the current chairperson for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and oversees three programs created through the passage of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act: the Health Care for the Homeless Program; Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness, and the Title V Surplus Property Program.

Together, these programs have provided a range of services and resources to hundreds of thousands of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. For example, twenty years after beginning as a demonstration program authorized by McKinney-Vento, the Health Resources and Services Administration's Health Care for the Homeless Program currently involves over 200 grantees providing outreach, health services and referrals to 700,000 persons annually, including families and children.

"Thousands of Americans experience homelessness in our country each day. We need a coordinated public-private effort to end chronic homelessness as a way of life including housing combined with the types of services supported by HHS programs," Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "Comprehensive long-term solutions, such as permanent supportive housing, mental health services, and domestic violence counseling continue to be our essential tools toward helping individuals and families with disabilities enjoy a life of greater dignity and self-sufficiency."

The HUD programs funded under the McKinney-Vento Act are demonstrating significant and measurable progress toward ending homelessness for families and individuals around the country. This year alone, HUD's Continuum of Care programs are helping an estimated 315,000 persons with both housing and support services, including 24,000 veterans and 57,000 homeless persons living with a chronic condition such as mental illness, an addiction or a physical disability. In addition, nearly 150,000 formerly homeless persons with disabilities are living in a permanent supportive environment because of HUD programs funded through McKinney-Vento.

Through its McKinney-Vento programs, HUD works with and encourages communities to assist homeless persons in accessing Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Food Stamps, and mental health and drug/alcohol addiction programs. For example, the percent of persons securing employment while in HUD's homeless projects increased by 86 percent compared to those who were employed prior to entering HUD's projects. Similarly, significantly more homeless persons are accessing Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Food Stamps, and mental health and drug/alcohol addiction programs.

While HUD's McKinney-Vento programs are credited with saving countless lives, the Department is proposing to consolidate three grant programs, each with their own rules and eligibility requirements, into a single program. This consolidation will greatly simplify the grant application process, streamline local planning, and speed delivery of resources to those who need it most. In addition, the proposed consolidation will satisfy requests from local "continuums of care" for a more flexible program that would allow them greater discretion and control in meeting the needs of homeless persons in their community.


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 and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and

HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act programs award funds either by formula or, to a much greater extent, by competition. HUD's competitively awarded "Continuum of Care" grants require local communities to develop their own community-based approach by identifying needs and building a system of housing and service programs to address them. The approach is built on the understanding that homelessness is not caused merely by a lack of shelter, but involves a variety of underlying unmet needs�physical, economic, and social. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act programs administered by HUD include:

  • Supportive Housing Program - This program provides housing and a variety of services to address the root causes of a person's homelessness. In addition to housing assistance, a homeless individual or family may receive mental health services, job training, drug/alcohol treatment, or domestic violence counseling.

  • Shelter Plus Care Program - Shelter Plus Care (S+C) provides housing and supportive services on a long-term basis for homeless persons with disabilities including a serious mental illness, chronic problems with alcohol and/or drugs, and HIV/AIDS.

  • Single Room Occupancy Program - Provides rental assistance to homeless individuals in a rehabilitated single-room dwelling.

  • Emergency Shelter Grant Program - This block grant program allocates funds by formula to local units of government to help improve the quality of existing emergency homeless shelters, to create additional shelters, to meet the costs of operating shelters, to provide essential social services to homeless individuals, and to help prevent homelessness.

  • Title V Program - HUD collects and publishes information every week about unneeded surplus federal property that can be used to help homeless persons. The properties are leased without charge and are available on an "as is" basis. Eligible grantees include states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations. Interested organizations apply to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Content Archived: May 10, 2010