Rural Homelessness: Better Collaboration by HHS and HUD Could Improve Delivery of Services in Rural Areas Page: 12 of 59
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improvement, and disaster relief. HUD's Office of Native American
Programs is responsible for the implementation and administration of
programs, such as housing and community development, that are specific
to Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The Indian Health Service within
HHS is responsible for providing federal health services to Native
Americans and Alaska Natives.
Unlike Native Americans and Alaska Natives, the federal government does
not have a unique legal and political relationship with colonias. However,
the Cranston-Gonzalez Act of 1990 recognized colonias within U.S. borders
as distressed communities and designated set-aside funding to advance
opportunities for homeownership and economic self-sufficiency in these
areas.'5 Individuals and families in colonias may lack safe, sanitary, and
sound housing and be without basic services such as potable water,
adequate sewage systems, utilities, and paved roads.
Forms of Rural
Situations Ranging from
the More Visible, Such as
Living in Shelters, to the
Less Visible, Such as Living
in Overcrowded Housing
The characteristics or forms of homelessness in the rural areas we visited
ranged from the more visible, such as living in shelters, to the less visible,
such as living in overcrowded or substandard housing. The range of living
situations of persons experiencing homelessness in rural areas may
overlap with the living situations of those experiencing homelessness in
nonrural areas. Some persons experiencing homelessness lived in shelters
or transitional housing. Shelters, where they existed, provided one of the
visible entry points to receiving both housing assistance and supportive
services. Some shelters we visited conduct initial assessments of
individuals and families experiencing homelessness to determine their
needs. The shelters may provide case management or mental health
services or provide referrals to services within the area. We also observed
various shelter types-some served specific groups, such as domestic
violence victims or youth, while others were multipurpose. Some shelters
were traditional, small communal shelters; some organizations used
scattered site housing as shelters; and some shelters had no fixed location.
For example, some service providers issued hotel vouchers, while others
had moving shelters in which churches or other organizations would offer
space. The shelter would be located in one organization's donated space
for a set period of time before moving to another organization. Services
available to clients also varied greatly among shelters. Some shelters
offered a full range of on-site services such as mental health services,
'5Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act, Pub. L. No. 101-625 (Nov. 28, 1990).
GAO-10-724 Rural Homelessness
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Rural Homelessness: Better Collaboration by HHS and HUD Could Improve Delivery of Services in Rural Areas, report, July 20, 2010; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301393/m1/12/: accessed May 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.