Rural Homelessness: Better Collaboration by HHS and HUD Could Improve Delivery of Services in Rural Areas Page: 56 of 59
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Appendix III: Comments from the
Department of Housing and Urban
: J U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
* * WASHINGTON, DC 20410-7000
ASSISTANT SECRETARY R)R
COMMUNITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
JUL 0 9 2010
Ms. Alicia Cackley, Director
Financial Markets and Community Investment
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW, Room 2017
Washington, DC 20548
Dear Ms. Cackley:
This is in response to the Government Accountability Office's draft report entitled Rural
Homelessness: Better Collaboration by HHS and HUD Could Improve Delivery of Services in
Rural Areas (July 2010)--GAO-10-724. HUD provided specific technical comments under
separate cover. HUD agrees with the overall GAO recommendation regarding the value of
collaboration among federal partners. However, HUD is including in this letter additional
information that may provide context on complex issues presented in this report, particularly
related to the definition of rural, HUD's data collection efforts, and collaboration with other
federal agencies. This report contains references to GAO's recently released report on the
definition of homelessness. HUD provided extensive comment and a letter for the record to
GAO on that report and will not repeat many of those concerns here, and encourages readers to
review both reports in order to fully understand HUD's position on the issues. HUD's specific
comments related to this report are as follows:
* GAO points out that federal agencies do not employ a single definition of "rural." In
many cases, this is due to statutory requirements rather than policy decisions made by
the federal agencies. The Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS), for
example, has used the definition of rural that was included as part of the "Rural
Homelessness Grant Program" that was created in the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless
Housing Assistance Amendments Act of 1992. Furthermore, it may not be
reasonable for all agencies to utilize the same definition of rural as the purposes of
their programs may be vastly different.
* Since 2005, HUD has been reporting local and national level homeless data to Congress
through the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR)---the first and only national
estimate of homelessness to use longitudinal data. GAO's report presents a limited
review of HUD's data collection and reporting efforts and does not acknowledge the
progress that has been made in this area or the value of the data currently being collected
* This report discusses the need for better coordination between federal agencies that
require homeless data collection systems. HUD agrees, and has been working since
2006 with the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Veterans Affairs
(VA) to improve and align data collection and reporting requirements for federally
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/m1/56/: accessed May 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.