Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan During a Continuum of Care
Homelessness Grant Conference Call

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thank you. I'm pleased to join all of you as HUD announces more than $200 million to help more than 700 local programs serving our nation's homeless men, women and children.

These funds arrive at an important moment, as evidence continues to grow that the tools the Obama Administration has been using these last three years in the fight against homelessness are working.

Those tools start with the Recovery Act's Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program, which has saved more than 1.2 million people from homelessness.

And innovative programs like HUD-VASH, which combine HUD's Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance with VA's case management and clinical services, have housed more than 25,000 veterans -- which is particularly critical as our troops return home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Indeed, recent data shows that between 2010 and 2011, homelessness went down by almost every measure.

It declined among both individuals and families, as well as among those who are "chronically" homeless -- who have been homeless for extended periods of time.

And most significantly of all, 1-in-5 veterans are no longer sleeping on our nation's streets.

The fact that we've been able to reduce homelessness--particularly in the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression--is a real accomplishment. It was that progress that led the Obama Administration to release Opening Doors -- the first comprehensive federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness in our history.

But if we're going to meet that ambitious goal, we need to speed the progress we've already made assisting those who had historically been the hardest to house.

That starts by using the limited resources we have in this fiscal environment to invest in what we know works -- and as our local partners have demonstrated conclusively, few approaches work better than permanent supportive housing.

After all, it was by combining housing with supportive services that we were able to reduce chronic homelessness nationally by a third inside of 5 years.

These are the people with the deepest long-term needs, such as drug and alcohol addiction or mental illness. And for much of our history, I think most Americans assumed that they would always be homeless.

But our local partners proved otherwise. They showed that by helping these men and women get into safe, stable housing--where they could receive the services they needed for mental illness and substance abuse--was often the missing link -- the difference between a life on the streets and rebuilding that life.

And because this is the population that spends the most time cycling through our jails, emergency rooms, and shelters, we also learned something else:

That permanent supportive housing actually saves money -- because it puts an end to that revolving door once and for all.

Put simply: permanent supportive housing works -- both for the most vulnerable Americans, and for the taxpayer.

That's why the $200 million in grants we're announcing today are so important.

These new grants--combined with much of the nearly $1.75 billion for renewals we announced in December--are targeted to homeless Americans with serious, long-term needs.

Combined, these efforts support a broad range of housing and services--what we call the "continuum of care"--and fund efforts from street outreach to transitional and rapid re-housing as well as permanent homes that individuals and families who are homeless need to start rebuilding their lives.

And with HUD's proposed FY 2013 budget, we hope to build on that work -- providing an additional $330 million for homeless assistance grants and an additional $75 million for the HUD-VASH program for homeless veterans.

Collectively--between the progress we've made so far, the funds we announce today, and the commitment to the future we've made in HUD's budget--we recognize that as far as we've come, the job is not over.

We know that, with the need still so great and the budget environment so difficult, we have to continue using our resources strategically and with precision.

Because as we've already proven, when we do, we not only help more families get the housing they need and save money for taxpayers. Just as importantly, we move closer to something that once seemed impossible:

Ending homelessness in America, once and for all.

That's what this announcement is fundamentally about. And that's why I'm so pleased to make it today. Thank you -- and I'd love to take some questions.


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