First, congratulations to all who recently submitted the HUD CoC Program funding application! That was a big lift, but well worth the hard work. Clearly, CoC funding is critical to preventing and ending homelessness. But we also know it’s not enough. Fortunately, there are other federal resources available to help you.
Below we offer just a sampling of federal housing resources that could be woven into your tapestry of resources, funding, and programs. Weaving together multiple types of funding helps leverage resources, build capacity, and accelerate progress toward ending homelessness. But it takes hard work and a focus on collaboration.
Housing Resources through Collaboration with PHAs
- Homeless Preference for Housing Choice Vouchers
Local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) may adopt a “homeless preference,” which has the effect of prioritizing households experiencing homelessness to receive housing vouchers, even when the waiting list is closed to those who do not meet the preference criteria. The CoC and PHA should work together to draft the appropriate preference language, discuss whether and how supportive services will be provided, and agree on coordinated entry and other processes to determine which households are referred and how responsibilities are shared.
- Mainstream 811 Vouchers
PHAs may have access to Mainstream 811 vouchers , which are for non-elderly households when at least one household member has a disability. Combining this targeted special purpose resource with a homeless preference allows the CoC and PHA to provide ongoing housing subsidies for households exiting homelessness with a disability. The vouchers may also be used to facilitate “ move on ” of households from CoC-funded permanent supportive housing into other housing that is affordable to them, if they no longer need or want the intensive services being provided within the permanent supportive housing program.
- Family Unification Program Vouchers
PHAs may have access to Family Unification Program (FUP) vouchers , which are for (1) families involved in the public child welfare system where housing is a primary factor in reuniting children in care with their family or avoiding the removal of children, and (2) youth who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness and aging out of foster care. The CoC, PHA, and Public Child Welfare Agency (PCWA) should work together to determine criteria for targeting and processes for referral of households for the FUP vouchers, as well as delivery of supportive services for the household.
- Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) Vouchers
PHAs that do not have FUP vouchers may still assist youth aging out of foster care and at risk of becoming homeless. This is achieved by accessing tenant protection vouchers under the FYI initiative .
- Project-Based Vouchers
PHAs that administer vouchers can elect to “project-base” a certain percentage of their vouchers (i.e., up to 20% generally, plus an additional 10% for special needs, including assisting households experiencing homelessness). A project-based voucher is attached to a particular housing unit that a landlord has set aside for this purpose. PBVs tend to be especially helpful in communities where it is difficult to find housing where a tenant-based voucher can be used (e.g., a community with a low vacancy rate). PBVs are also helpful when developing or rehabilitating affordable housing, because the long-term predictability of PBV rental income improves the financial feasibility of the housing.
Housing Resources through Collaboration with Federally-assisted Multifamily Operators
- HUD-assisted Multifamily Housing Operators
HUD provides capital funding and project rental assistance for rental developments, including units for seniors (Section 202 housing) and households with disabilities (Section 811 housing). The operators of these units may adopt a “homeless preference,” which has the effect of prioritizing households exiting homelessness for open units in these developments.
Housing Resources through Collaboration with USDA-assisted Multifamily Operators
- USDA-assisted Multifamily Housing Operators
In rural areas, USDA provides funding to create and preserve affordable rental properties (Section 515 housing), as well as project-based rental assistance to some of those properties (Section 521 rental assistance). Connecting with the operators of USDA-assisted developments may open new units to add to your system.
You can find more information here: USDA Multifamily Housing
In addition to tapping the resources summarized above, talk with your state and local housing funding agencies and departments about aligning the work of ending homelessness and the funding from: (1) HOME Investment Partnerships Program ; (2) Community Development Block Grant ; (3) National Housing Trust Fund ; (4) State and Local Housing Trust Funds ; and (5) Low-Income Housing Tax Credits .
Weaving together CoC funding with the non-dedicated housing highlighted here will accelerate progress on preventing and ending homelessness.