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Review of Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Programs Administered by HUD

Release Date: 
January 1995
Posted Date:   
January 1, 1995

The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 was the Nation's first comprehensive response to homelessness. Under this omnibus legislation, HUD has directed six major programs that address various aspects of the crisis. The Department's Review of Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Programs Administered by HUD draws on recent evaluations sponsored by HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research to assess the impact of these programs and offer insights into how HUD can help communities create a continuum of care.

Activities supported by McKinney Act funds have provided a wide range of homeless assistance, including emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, as well as an array of supportive services. This assistance has yielded measurable results toward alleviating homelessness. Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) recipients served approximately 2.8 million individuals and over 1 million families in FY 1991. Seventy percent of residents who graduated from transitional housing programs funded by HUD's Supportive Housing Demonstration Program entered into other stable housing arrangements; the percentage of assisted families employed or in training doubled.

Many grantees used their McKinney funds to implement comprehensive, coordinated approaches to ending homelessness. However, such efforts have been complicated by differences in target populations, eligible applicants and activities, and funding systems and criteria among the various programs, as well as by confusing timeframes and regulations. Grantees took full advantage of the opportunities for flexibility afforded by some McKinney programs to design creative assistance strategies. In this respect, the block grant structure of ESG worked well, allowing grantees maximum flexibility.

The study found that the most positive outcomes were achieved by projects that built comprehensive care systems through a consolidated approach designed to foster coordination of services. Successful programs also:

Treat individuals as unique and valued. Balance individual rights and responsibilities. Offer stable housing and a comprehensive set of support services. Challenge clients to aim for independence.