Rural Homelessness: Better Collaboration by HHS and HUD Could Improve Delivery of Services in Rural Areas Page: 43 of 59
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The issue of rural homelessness presents a number of challenges for
federal agencies, not the least of which is determining its extent. Data
limitations and the array of federal programs, some of which are not
specifically targeted toward homelessness and some of which do not track
if their services or dollars have been expended in rural areas or on persons
experiencing homelessness, have resulted in multiple data sets that do not
allow for an overall assessment of the characteristics and extent of rural
homelessness or a comparison with nonrural homelessness. The data
issues are enormously challenging, but they also highlight the importance
of coordinating within existing programs to mitigate some of the impact of
the information gaps and to effectively deliver services.
As HUD and HHS consider collaborative efforts to address homelessness,
formal coordination across these agencies that links supportive services
and housing-a model that has shown to be effective-needs to include
tangible and accessible opportunities for providers to bridge the gap in
funding for supportive services that can be joined with housing for
persons experiencing homelessness. Providers with whom we met in rural
areas were generally unaware of any collaborative efforts between HUD
and HHS that would assist them in linking housing and supportive
services. Particularly during HUD's shift in its resources and
responsibilities in 2002, HHS and HUD, the primary agencies for
supportive services and housing, did not implement some of the key
practices for effective collaboration that could have limited gaps in
services. More effective collaboration can create incentives and
opportunities for homeless housing and supportive services to be linked,
which is considered to be important for the effective delivery of assistance
to persons experiencing homelessness, and to further reduce
administrative challenges for local service providers. By more formally
linking housing and supportive services, HUD and HHS could increase
their ability and opportunities to address gaps in efforts to effectively
address homelessness and decrease challenges to service providers and
persons experiencing homelessness.
To strengthen formal collaboration efforts, we recommend that the
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Secretary of Health
and Human Services direct the appropriate program offices to further
explore opportunities to more formally link housing and supportive
services-in the most appropriate forms and combinations of mainstream
and targeted programs identified by both agencies-with specific
consideration for how such collaboration could minimize barriers to
service provision in rural areas.
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/m1/43/: accessed May 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.