WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 Reuters - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development took steps on Wednesday to allow local communities to tap a $5 billion Fund for creation of affordable housing and services for the half million people living or at risk of homelessness.
The fund was created as part of the $1.9 trillion Marine Rescue Plan of Congress in March to address the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Many large U.S. cities have seen a spike in homeless numbers during the global pandemic, compounding a growing problem, and U.S. officials fear the situation will get worse after the U.S Supreme Court struck down a federal moratorium on evictions.
There is no time to wait to help the more than half a million Americans who are enduring this pandemic in high shelters or on the streets, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a statement.
A new HUD announcement released Tuesday would allow communities to gain faster access to the fund.
Under regular guidelines, applicants must wait for funds until their allocation plans are approved and complete. But HUD allows grantees to get 5% up front; the remaining money will follow once their plans are accepted.
HUD said the change would help address homelessness in extremely low-income households, including through landlord-based rental assistance and acquisition and development of shelter units.
HUD reported in March that 580,466 people in the United States experienced homelessness on a single night in 2020, up 2.2 percent from 2019, down 2.2 percent in 2018. Its annual report found that people of color were significantly overrepresented among those experiencing homelessness.