FY 1998 - 2003 Strategic Plan
Strategic Objective #2

Help communities and States establish a full continuum of housing and services designed to assist homeless individuals and families in achieving permanent housing and self-sufficiency.


The best approach to alleviating homelessness is a community-based process that responds comprehensively to the varying needs of homeless individuals and families. A comprehensive and coordinated housing and service delivery approach helps communities plan for and executes that balanced response.

HUD's innovative homeless effort works with communities to establish cost-effective "continuum of care" systems in which gaps in the housing and services needed to move homeless families and individuals into permanent housing are identified and filled. The continuum of care system serves the specific needs of all homeless sub-populations within a particular community. It is an inclusive process that coordinates the energy and experience of non-profit organizations, State and local governmental agencies, housing developers and service providers, private foundations, local businesses and the banking community, neighborhood groups, and homeless or formerly homeless persons.

With a continuum of care approach, the community can design a strategy that works best locally to assist homeless persons and families achieve permanent housing and self-sufficiency. The continuum of care model is based on the understanding that homelessness is not caused merely by a lack of shelter, but involves a variety of unmet needs -- physical, economic, and social. HUD helps communities develop a holistic system through a community-based process that provides a comprehensive response to the differing needs of homeless individuals and families.

The Department is further committed to ensuring that the non-discriminatory provisions of the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are fully complied with in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance.

This strategy is designed to ensure that homeless programs and facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities and address their disability related needs. In addition, the Department ensures that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected in this program by conducting monitoring reviews and investigating discrimination complaints filed against recipients of Federal financial assistance.


The Department proposed in its FY 1998 budget submission to consolidate the activities of HUD's six existing McKinney homeless assistance programs and the Innovative Homeless Demonstration Program into a single performance-based program. This will enable localities to shape flexible continuum-of-care approaches to solving, rather than institutionalizing, homelessness.

The primary strategy of CPD since 1993 has been to foster a Continuum of Care strategy in communities with significant homeless populations throughout the United States. This has been accomplished by including such a strategy within the framework of the Consolidated Plan undertaken by every entitlement community and State. It has also been carried out by encouraging joint coordinated submissions for homeless assistance under the competitive programs.

Among the components of a fully operational Continuum of Care System are: outreach and assessment to identify an individual's or family's needs and connect them to facilities and services; immediate shelter as a safe, decent alternative to the streets; transitional housing with appropriate supportive services, such as job training, job placement, child care, substance abuse treatment, mental health services and instruction in independent living skills; and permanent housing or permanent supportive housing arrangements.

A study by Columbia University showed that substantial progress has been made in encouraging communities to adopt a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of homeless persons.

To foster a true continuum of options for the homeless, the Department would make public and assisted housing resources available to families with extremely low incomes. HUD's legislative proposals would eliminate Federal admissions preferences for public and assisted housing, enabling local Housing Authorities to establish admissions preferences according to community needs. Preferences may be established for families that are homeless or threatened with homelessness if determined necessary by Housing Authorities. Homeless or at-risk families will remain eligible for housing assistance even in those Housing Authorities not establishing preferences for the homeless, however. This is because the Department has proposed to require that Housing Authorities reserve significant portions of their admissions each year for families with extremely low incomes. Many families making the transition from homelessness would fall into this income category.

Housing - Contributing to the Reduction in and Prevention of Homelessness

Sales/leasing to non­profits

The homes sold to non­profits can be used as transitional housing or similar uses. No data exists, however, on the numbers utilized for this purpose or the total number sold. In Multifamily, there are procedures that permit the sale of HUD­owned projects to non­profits and organized tenant groups on a negotiated basis. Non­profits can also compete to purchase HUD­owned projects.

No priority is provided for non­profit or tenant purchases. These groups can work/partner with state and local governments via the right of first refusal process mentioned above.

Partnership with Health and Human Services and other Federal Agencies

In reviewing our draft Strategic Plan, HHS noted that "Support services for the homeless must be comprehensive encompassing all social supports such as day care, health needs, job training, and transportation."

HHS encourages "interagency collaboration in trying to provide comprehensive support to the homeless." HUD is working with Federal agencies such as Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Justice, Agriculture, and Department of Transportation to utilize existing programs, and to create new partnerships to provide a "continuum of care" for the homeless. This process is on-going.

Program Evaluation

In recent years, PD&R has evaluated all of the major HUD McKinney Act programs. Among these are evaluations of the Supplemental Assistance for Facilities to Aid the Homeless (SAFAH) program, the Supportive Housing Demonstration (SHDP) program, the Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) program, and the Shelter Plus Care (SPC) program. In addition, in collaboration with the Census Bureau and several other Federal agencies, the Department is presently conducting a census of homeless service providers.

FHEO may also use the results of periodic compliance reviews and monitoring reviews as a further tool to evaluate these programs.

PD&R will continue to conduct studies related to measuring the performance of homeless programs. Currently, in collaboration with the Census Bureau and several other Federal agencies, the Department is conducting a census of homeless service providers. This will provide an important baseline for measuring the effects of homeless initiatives. The Department is also completing work on a local homeless database system, which will provide important tracking data on homeless individuals, which will help in performance measurement.

Linkage to HUD 2020: Management Reform Plan

Problems encountered by CPD include limited resources for managing competitive grants; limited staff for on-site monitoring; fragmented approaches to solving community problems; and an inability to completely track and respond to market trends.

CPD is in the process of correcting these weaknesses by seeking legislation to convert competitive grants into performance-based grants; outsourcing discrete functions; using advanced mapping software to aid community planning (Community 2020); aligning resources within a new Economic Development and Empowerment Service (see also Objective #1); and downsizing its Headquarters staff.

HUD has also proposed legislation to consolidate six homeless assistance programs into one Performance-based Formula Grant program. Permanent consolidation will eliminate the need for HUD to administer staff-intensive, multiple competitions for funds. Communities, through local planning boards, may share comprehensive "continuum of care" systems, which would lie within the overall Consolidated Plan for that community.

Programmatically, the new Economic Development and Empowerment Service will allow HUD to:

  • approach homeless problems locally and comprehensively,
  • ensure role of non-profits and other community organizations, and
  • give cities responsibility for monitoring homeless problems.

External Factors

Macro-economic factors can dwarf the Department's efforts to affect homelessness. Increases in unemployment, the failure to provide employment for people leaving the welfare rolls, and increases in the cost of housing all can lead to increases in homelessness. Factors such as the rates of domestic violence, substance abuse, and the incidence of disabilities, which are associated with homelessness, also are beyond the Department's control.

Moreover, HUD's ability to transition people into permanent housing is constrained by local housing markets, by the ability to place people into employment, and by the availability of financial support for these individuals.

Please see also the section on External Factors under Objective #1.

How annual performance goals support the achievement of this objective

Adopting a comprehensive approach to the prevention of homelessness is an integral part of the strategy of HUD. Development of Continuum of Care Partnerships in Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) communities will be measured annually, with an ultimate goal of a partnership in every ESG community by the year 2003.

But that alone will not solve the problem. For those who already face the plight of homelessness, we must first increase annually the number of transitional beds linked to supportive services, and, more importantly, the number of homeless persons moved from HUD transitional housing to permanent housing. In order to accurately measure this transition, as well as the overall state of homelessness, we must increase the number of local homeless tracking systems.

See Appendix I for specific performance measures.
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Content Archived: December 12, 2011