The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) released on February 25 a report reviewing homelessness prevention programs in 25 states. The report argues that the economic downturn has significantly increased the demand for homelessness prevention efforts and makes recommendations for the most effective use of Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) and Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) funds in the recently passed economic recovery legislation.
For each of the 25 states, NLCHP’s overview includes a description of the homelessness prevention programs and the types of assistance available, the eligibility requirements for receiving the assistance, program effectiveness, and agency contact information. The report demonstrates that some states have significant funding shortfalls for these programs and concludes that the $1.5 billion in ESG funds and the $100 million in EFSP funds in the recent economic recovery bill are good steps toward bolstering homelessness prevention programs and fortifying state efforts.
In order to maximize the impact of ESG funds, the report says that HUD guidance should allow households that are doubled-up due to economic hardship to receive assistance. HUD should also include legal services and an evaluation of program effectiveness among the eligible uses of the funding. Finally, the report notes that a comprehensive effort to prevent homelessness must include the production of housing for households with the lowest incomes.
The report, An Ounce of Prevention: Programs to Prevent Homelessness in 25 States, can be found here: http://www.nlchp.org/content/pubs/OunceofPrevention1.pdf.