Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation Page: 2 of 29
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Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation
There is no single federal definition of homelessness. However, most federal
programs for the homeless define a homeless individual as a person who lacks a
fixed night-time residence or whose primary residence is a supervised public or
private shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations, an institution
accommodating persons intended to be institutionalized, or a public or private place
not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human
The most recent count of the homeless, from 1996, found that between 2.3
million and 3.5 million individuals were homeless at any given time during the year.
A congressionally mandated Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to
count the homeless is expected to produce annual data about the number of homeless
individuals sometime in 2006.
A number of federal programs, most authorized by the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77), serve the homeless. The main federal
programs for the homeless include the Education for Homeless Children and Youth
(EHCY) program; the Emergency Food and Shelter (EFS) program; the Health Care
for the Homeless Program (HCH); the Projects for Assistance in Transition from
Homelessness (PATH) program; the Consolidated Runaway and Homeless Youth
programs (the Basic Center Program and the Transitional Living Program); the Street
Outreach Program (SOP); the Supportive Housing Program (SHP); the Shelter Plus
Care (S+C) program; the Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation of Single-Room
Occupancy Dwellings (SRO) program; the Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG)
program; the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP); the Health Care
for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) program; and a number of other federal programs
for homeless veterans.
Looking toward the future, the Administration has adopted a goal of ending
chronic homelessness within 10 years, and several proposals that would assist in
reaching that goal have been introduced in the 109th Congress. These include H.R.
1471/S. 709, the Services for Ending Long-Term Homelessness Act, H.R. 5041 and
S. 1801, both of which would reauthorize the HUD Homeless Assistance Grants, and
H.R. 4347, the Bringing America Home Act. In addition, a number of bills have
been introduced that would specifically assist homeless veterans. One that has
already been signed into law (P.L. 109-233) reauthorizes the Homeless Veterans
Reintegration Program. Others include S. 2694, which would reauthorize programs
for homeless veterans and make housing choice vouchers available for veterans; and
S. 1180, S. 1182, and H.R. 5960, all of which would reauthorize the Homeless
Providers Grant and Per Diem Program.
This report will be updated to reflect legislative activity.
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Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation, report, September 26, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc807220/m1/2/: accessed September 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.