HUD Bars NYC From Administering Homeless Grants $Millions FWD

Tom Boland (
Tue, 21 Dec 1999 16:44:04 -0800 (PST)

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Who and what do you think motivated HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo to stop
the City of New York from administering HUD Homeless Grants there?

What precedental impact might HUD's decision have in other USA cities?
FWD  HUD Press Release - Tuesday December 21, 10:55 am Eastern Time

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


NEW YORK, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development will bar New York City from administering millions of dollars in
HUD homeless grants because the City has acted improperly to block funds to
groups that have criticized City policies, Secretary Andrew Cuomo said today.

``HUD is acting in the best interests of homeless people in New York City,
to ensure that the most qualified homeless assistance programs get our
funding,'' Cuomo said. ``Our action won't cut funding to homeless programs in
New York City by a single penny, but will make sure that federal dollars go to
the right programs and are administered fairly and lawfully.''

Cuomo said he is taking the unprecedented action in response to a judge's
ruling and several complaints accusing New York City of retaliating against
non-profit groups by denying them HUD funds after they criticized City
policies on homelessness and other issues.

HUD requires communities applying for homeless assistance funding to put
together a list ranking programs in order of priority. Because communities
usually seek more money from HUD than is available, programs given low
rankings usually do not get funding.

Typically, city officials convene this process and rank the programs. New
York City has been convening the ranking process for the City's grant
application for several years.

Most Continuum of Care funding in New York City goes directly from HUD to
non-profit groups. However, New York City has applied for millions of
additional dollars that were set to be administered by the City government
until Cuomo's announcement.

The Secretary said HUD itself will administer these grants in New York
City, replacing the New York City government as the administrator of the funds
not awarded directly to homeless service providers.

HUD will also bar New York City from ranking the applications of groups
seeking homeless assistance funds from HUD in 2000, Cuomo said. He said HUD
will require that a new entity be designated to do the rankings of all
applications from groups in New York City.

The Secretary made his announcement at a hearing by two New York State
Assembly Committees in New York City on the City's homeless policies.

A recent federal court ruling overturned an attempt by New York City to
stop HUD Continuum of Care homeless assistance grant funds from going to the
group Housing Works by lowering the group's priority ranking.

U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz ruled Nov. 12 that New York City
improperly lowered the ranking to retaliate against Housing Works because the
group has staged demonstrations to protest City policies dealing with
homelessness and AIDS. The judge said the City's action violated the First
Amendment constitutional rights of Housing Works.

The judge said that two Housing Works programs -- in Manhattan and
Brooklyn -- should have been ranked much higher by New York City because they
met all four locally determined criteria for the designation of high priority
applications. The criteria are: renewal of existing programs; and providing
housing and services to people with substance abuse problems, people with
mental illness, and people with AIDS.

Judge Schwartz ordered the rankings of the Housing Works programs to be
raised substantially to give them a better chance to receive HUD homeless
assistance. New York City is appealing the judge's ruling.

In addition, HUD has received complaints from other non-profit groups that
serve homeless people, accusing New York City of being unfair when
prioritizing the applications of the groups for HUD homeless assistance

An example was reported to HUD in 1998, involving another group that has
been critical of New York City's homeless policies -- the Coalition for the
Homeless. The Coalition was removed entirely by New York City from its list of
groups eligible for Continuum of Care funding from HUD. The group complained
that it was improperly denied funding as the result of the City action. HUD
responded by deducting points from the assistance application by New York

Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Mary Brosnahan wrote to HUD
in 1998 about the case, and said: ``HUD's historic record of consistency and
fairness stands in stark contrast to the arbitrary and capricious actions by
local government officials surrounding this application.''

HUD will award grants to non-profit groups and others around the nation
under its award-winning Continuum of Care program for homeless people by the
end of the year.

The grants will fund a broad range of housing initiatives, job training,
child care, mental health services, and substance abuse treatment that offer
long-term solutions to homelessness.

The goal of the Continuum of Care initiative is to help people overcome
underlying problems that led to their homelessness, so that as many people as
possible can get permanent housing and jobs to become self-sufficient. Cuomo
said the Continuum of Care model is the best way to help homeless people.

``Our approach offers long-term solutions to homelessness that really work,
instead of short-term fixes that won't solve the problem,'' Cuomo said.

Today's announcement by Cuomo comes two weeks after he released a report
that showed HUD's Continuum of Care program and other programs that provide
homeless people with both housing and needed services are working. The report
is titled The Forgotten Americans - Homelessness: Programs and the People They
Serve. The study said that when homeless people get housing assistance and
needed services, 76% of those living in families and 60% of those living alone
end their homeless status after completion of the assistance program.

HUD's Continuum of Care initiative, which was developed by Cuomo when he
was an Assistant Secretary at HUD, is the centerpiece of the federal policy on
homelessness. It has helped more than 300,000 homeless people get housing and
jobs to become self-sufficient.

The Continuum of Care stresses permanent solutions to homelessness through
comprehensive and collaborative community planning. Communities submit plans
to HUD that reflect efforts to address the complexities of homelessness
through a range of housing and services.

HUD has invested nearly $5 billion in programs to help homeless people
since President Clinton took office -- more than three times as much as the
$1.5 billion HUD spent on homeless assistance programs from 1987 to 1993. The
grants are awarded to states, local governments and non-profit groups based on
a number of factors that measure the effectiveness of plans to help homeless
people become self-sufficient.

This year, the Continuum of Care was one of just ten winners, out of 1,600
competitors, of the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award that
is given by the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at
Harvard University. The awards are designed to recognize ``cutting edge''
government programs that effectively solve problems and that other governments
can replicate.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


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