[Hpn] U.S. Government Seeks More Coordination for Homeless

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Fri, 20 Jul 2001 17:37:16 -0400


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Friday, July 20, 2001 - 1:58 PM ET
Yahoo News Full Coverage - Homelessness
<http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/US/Homelessness/>
Politics - Reuters
U.S. Government Seeks More Coordination for Homeless
<http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010720/pl/life_homeless_dc_1.html>

By Christina Ling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Mel Martinez on Friday announced a new effort to combat
homelessness by better coordinating the government's maze of targeted
programs.

Saying $13 billion of federal assistance to the nation's homeless since 1987 
has had little lasting impact, Martinez said he was reactivating a 
now-dormant council to coordinate activities of federal agencies and other 
groups trying to address the issue.

With at least 600,000 people are homeless on any given night in the
United States, the government wanted to focus on providing permanent
housing, he said.

The Interagency Council on the Homeless was created in 1987 but had
not functioned for the past five years, he said.

With an annual budget for homelessness programs of roughly $1 billion,
HUD is currently the government's main provider of such targeted funds, he 
said. But seven other agencies also administered such programs, many of them 
very similar.

``The problem is that these programs exist with some -- but not nearly
enough -- cooperation between the agencies,'' Martinez told the annual
conference of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

``This lack of coordination comes at the expense of the homeless men
and women we are trying to help,'' he added.

Martinez has expressed interest over the past few months in shifting
responsibility for helping homeless victims of mental illness and drug- or 
alcohol addiction from HUD to the Department of Health and Human Services 
(news - web sites).

Such a shift would potentially free HUD's resources for what Martinez
and advocates for the homeless say should be its main focus --
providing vital permanent, affordable housing.

More than half the agency's budget for the homeless now goes to
provide services that some say are more properly the concern of HHS,
such as addiction treatment, job training or counseling to victims of
domestic abuse.

But the secretary said a joint HUD-HHS task force set up to study the
issue had not yet decided on any transfer of programs from one agency
to the other.

While the task force continued its work, HUD was also preparing
legislation to address provisions in existing law hindering the agency
from using its homelessness budget to develop housing, Martinez said.

Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness,
welcomed HUD's renewed focus on the issues but said careful planning
and coordination was needed. ``The devil is always in the details,'' she 
said. ``They cannot just stop funding the services and expect HHS to pick 
them up.''

(additional reporting by Letitia Stein)

---End of forward article---

~~~Related Web sites -- FYI:


U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

http://www.hud.gov/


Interagency Council on the Homeless:

http://aspe.hhs.gov/progsys/homeless/ich.htm


National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH):

http://www.naeh.org/

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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA


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