Ending Chronic Homelessness: Strategies for Action. Mainstream HHS Service Delivery Programs

03/01/2003

In 1999, the General Accounting Office (GAO) examined the extent to which Federal programs designed to assist low income and disabled persons responded to homelessness.(1) The report identified up to 50 programs in eight Departments and Agencies that provided relevant assistance. Almost one-third of these programs were specifically targeted to homeless persons (16 of the 50)(2), while the balance constitute some of the largest and best known of the Federal assistance programs such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Public Housing, and Supplemental Security Income. Collectively, these programs serve millions of individuals. The report referred to these as non-targeted programs, but the phrase 'mainstream programs' has been widely used to embrace them.

GAO identified 12 relevant mainstream programs in HHS. The Work Group took these 12 programs as a starting point to explore improved access, coordination, and prevention activities related to chronic homelessness. Three were eliminated as being less applicable to chronic homelessness. Specifically, Head Start, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant were dropped from further consideration because they were not likely to address single, disabled, poor adults who primarily make up the chronically homeless population. Two others were collapsed into one program, based on advice from the Health Resources and Services Administration which administers them. Specifically, Migrant Health Centers were not treated as a separate program as GAO had done, but were subsumed within the Consolidated Community Health Centers cluster. This left 8 mainstream programs as the focus of the Work Group.(3)

 

Mainstream HHS Programs Selected for Their Relevance to Chronic Homelessness:

  • Medicaid
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Social Services Block Grant
  • Community Services Block Grant
  • Community Health Centers
  • Ryan White Programs
  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant
  • Community Mental Health Services Block Grant

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