US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today awarded more than $3.6 million in funding to keep 24 of local homeless assistance programs in Vermont operating in the coming year. The grants announced today form a critical foundation for the Obama Administration’s Opening Doors strategy, the nation’s first comprehensive plan to prevent and end homelessness. For a summary of the Vermont grants announced today, visit HUD’s website.Today’s announcement also comes just a week before thousands of volunteers in nearly every city and county conduct a national one-night count of homeless persons and families. HUD’s Let’s Make Everybody Count! campaign is intended to document trends in homelessness that are crucial to local planners’ efforts to prevent and end homelessness in their areas.‘There is a tremendous need on our streets and in our shelters among those experiencing both long-term homelessness as well as families confronting a sudden economic crisis,’ said Donovan. ‘These grants are the life blood for thousands of local housing and service programs that are doing the heavy lifting to meet President Obama’s goal of ending homelessness.’Barbara Poppe, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director, added, ‘Across federal agencies, we are aligning mainstream programs towards a goal to prevent and end homelessness. While we continue to strengthen public-private partnerships in Washington and across the country to meet this goal, today’s grants provide essential support to continue the progress and meet critical needs of those who experience the crisis of homelessness.’In June, 19 federal agencies and offices that form the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) submitted to the President and Congress the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. The full report is titled Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The plan puts the country on a path to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020.Last September, HUD announced that it would renew funding through HUD’s Continuum of Care programs to existing local programs as quickly as possible to prevent any interruption in federal assistance. HUD will award funds to new projects later in the year.HUD’s Continuum of Care grants provide permanent and transitional housing to homeless persons as well as services including job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care. Continuum of Care grants are awarded competitively to local programs to meet the needs of their homeless clients. These grants fund a wide variety of programs from street outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons and families.HUD’s homeless assistance grants are reducing long-term or chronic homelessness in America. Based on the Department’s latest homeless assessment, chronic homelessness has declined since 2005 due to significant investments to produce thousands of units of permanent supportive housing for those who had been living on the streets. While the total number of homeless persons in America dropped slightly between 2008 and 2009, the number of homeless families increased for the second consecutive year, almost certainly due to the ongoing effects of the recession. In the last 10 days of January, volunteers from across the country will attempt to count the number of homeless persons living in shelters and on the streets as part of a national point-in-time count. For more information about HUD’s ‘Let’s Make Everybody Count!’ campaign, visit www.hud.gov/homelesscount(link is external).Based on HUD’s 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), volunteers throughout the nation counted 643,000 homeless people during a given night in January 2009. In addition, HUD found that during 2009, 1.54 million people used emergency or transitional housing programs in 2009. A typical sheltered homeless person is a single, middle-aged man and a member of a minority group. Of all those who sought emergency shelter or transitional housing during 2009, the following characteristics were observed:Ã 78 percent of all sheltered homeless persons are adults;Ã 61 percent are male;Ã 62 percent are members of a minority group;Ã 38 percent are 31-to-50 years old;Ã 64 percent are in one-person households, andÃ 38 percent have a disability.In addition to HUD’s annual grant awards, HUD allocated $1.5 billion through its new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program. Made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, HPRP is intended to prevent persons from falling into homelessness or to rapidly re-house them if they do. To date, more than 750,000 persons have been assisted through HPRP.HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov(link is external) and espanol.hud.gov.