On January 27, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued its long awaited Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for a $35 million program to address chronic homelessness. This initiative is part of an overall Bush Administration effort to shift federal homeless policy toward ending chronic homelessness over the next decade. The new program includes funding for permanent supportive housing, mental illness and substance abuse treatment, primary health care and veterans’ services. It is being coordinated by the White House Interagency Council on the Homeless and involves the participation of separate agencies at HUD, HHS and the VA.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that individuals with severe mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse disorders are disproportionately represented among the nation’s chronically homeless population, i.e. individuals that have been homeless for a year or more and who typically cycle through the streets, shelters, jails and hospitals. Several recent studies have revealed that supportive housing (permanent housing linked to support services) is extremely effective in breaking this cycle and promoting recovery and full community participation. The Bush Administration’s new program is designed to help localities develop and promote supportive housing programs in order to move toward eliminating chronic homelessness at the community level.
Under the NOFA issued earlier this week, funds would be distributed through a national competition. Applicant local governments and non-profit agencies would have to demonstrate interagency cooperation at the local level between housing and community development agencies and non-profits, mental health and substance abuse treatment authorities, community health centers and veterans’ agencies. While NAMI affiliates are generally not able to apply directly to HUD for funding, they do have a critical role to play in prodding local officials develop an application for these funds. NAMI affiliate leaders are therefore encouraged to download the HUD NOFA and share it with local officials and push for efforts to seek funding for permanent supportive housing.
For additional information on the HUD Chronic Homeless Initiative:
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