Rural Homelessness: Better Collaboration by HHS and HUD Could Improve Delivery of Services in Rural Areas Page: 38 of 59
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services.44 Particularly, VA identified a number of Veterans Affairs Medical
Centers to participate in the program and provide case management
resources. While these efforts demonstrated practices that enhanced and
sustained collaboration, particularly linking housing assistance and
supportive services, HUD-VASH has not demonstrated collaborative
strategies that could benefit rural areas specifically, according to officials
and rural service providers in some of the states we visited. Because the
HUD vouchers must be linked to VA facilities, the recipients of the
vouchers have been mostly in nonrural areas in which most VA medical
centers are located. However, according to HUD officials, innovative
approaches, such as using a mobile clinic, are now being used to serve
rural areas. Furthermore, according to VA officials, HUD and VA have
discussed opportunities to improve voucher allocation in rural areas.45
Additionally, the Interagency Council has developed the first-ever Federal
Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The plan, which was
presented to Congress on June 22, 2010, reflects interagency agreements
on a set of priorities and strategies agencies will pursue over 5 and 10-year
timeframes according to population. Also, according to HUD and HHS
officials, the two departments, as part of the President's fiscal year 2011
budget, are proposing two demonstration initiatives, one involving 4,000
housing vouchers with health, behavioral health, and other supportive
services for chronically homeless persons, and another involving 6,000
housing vouchers linked with mainstream services like job training and
income assistance through TANF for homeless and at-risk families with
children. Additionally, according to HUD and HHS officials, the two
departments established working groups to identify collaboration
opportunities related to homelessness. However, given that the Council's
strategic plan has only recently been released and that the proposal in the
President's fiscal year 2011 budget has yet to be approved, the impact of
both of these efforts is uncertain.
According to officials and providers we interviewed, HUD and HHS are the
key agencies serving the general population of those experiencing
SThe 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which authorizes a joint effort between HUD
and VA to coordinate housing and supportive services for homeless veterans, articulated
steps for identifying roles and responsibilities and a system of leveraging resources. See
Pub. L. No. 110-161 (Dec. 26, 2007).
45Although HUD-VASH is not included in the fiscal year 2011 budget, HUD officials said that
they expect it will be included in future budgets.
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/m1/38/: accessed May 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.