On Mar. 20, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced nearly $74 million in funding for Los Angeles (LA) County, Calif. to assist the region’s homeless population. With California accounting for 20.7 percent of the nation’s homeless population in 2012, HUD’s contribution will help LA County expand and improve its 203 existing homelessness programs. LA County’s new funds are a share of the $243 million of renewed support for California’s homeless from the HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) Program in the fiscal year 2012. California is not the only state receiving federal assistance to assist with homelessness. New York received approximately $182 million and distributed the funds to its cities and counties to address its 9.6 percent increase in homeless persons since 2011. Counties across the United States are recipients of federal resources to help fund local homelessness programs. For example, Cook County, Ill. received over $9 million to bolster the capabilities of 40 CoC-affiliated programs.
This renewed funding comes only a few months after HUD released its 2012 Point-in-Time (PIT) Estimates of Homelessness Report which assessed rates and demographics of homelessness in all U.S. states based on county and city data collected on a single night in January 2012. Counties like Hillsborough in Florida found that 7,419 persons were homeless in their area — the highest figure among local jurisdictions smaller than the 50 largest cities in the country. To combat the high homelessness rate, the CoC Program increased funding for Hillsborough County by about $449, 000 — representing a 9.5 percent increase from 2011 to 2012 — and added three more initiatives to its roster (see funding levels and affiliated organizations from FY11 and FY12).
Although the federal government is a major source of funding for homelessness efforts, counties and other local governments coordinate the program implementation. For instance, Washoe County, Nev. and the cities of Reno and Sparks formed a partnership to improve services for the homeless. Through this alliance, the Community Assistance Center (CAC) in downtown Reno operates three homeless shelters for men, women and families with over $1.1 million in funding from Washoe County alone.
Local programs like Reno’s CAC contributed to a decrease in the national rate of homelessness by 5.7 percent since the 2007 PIT Report. Unfortunately, the 2012 PIT estimates show that this decline has slowed to less than one percent since Jan. 2011. Hopefully the federal-state-local partnership will continue to help local governments in providing more warm beds and meals for the nation’s homeless.