July 7, 2022

HUD: 100th Community Joins “House America” Homelessness Initiative

Today we are marking a major milestone for our House America initiative,” says Secretary Fudge, announcing Santa Clara County, California as 100th House America community

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge today announced Santa Clara County, California as the 100th community to join the Administration’s House America initiative to tackle homelessness by leveraging American Rescue Plan and other federal resources through a Housing First approach. She also discussed House America’s progress on the national level and the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to make housing more affordable, fueled by investments from the American Rescue Plan.

Secretary Fudge made the announcement during a Zoom call with Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara County Housing Authority Executive Director Preston Prince, and Destination: Home CEO Jennifer Loving.

“Today, we are marking a major milestone for our House America initiative,” said Secretary Fudge. “Like many of the communities that have joined House America, Santa Clara County is committed to taking a Housing First approach to solving homelessness through affordable housing solutions and supportive services. We cannot continue to sweep and move encampments from one area to another or from one city to another and think we are solving the problem. Solving homelessness means recognizing and confronting the injustices that have led people—especially Black, brown, indigenous, and other people of color—to their tragic circumstances. Solving homelessness requires focus and the investment of time and resources. The elected officials across state and local government who have taken our House America pledge know it will take a robust, all-hands-on-deck effort to solve this crisis. Santa Clara County exemplifies what an all-hands-on deck effort looks like.”

“Stable housing is the first and essential step to achieving nearly every other determinant of health,” said Supervisor Ellenberg. “In the case of people who have been chronically unhoused or face other co-occurring challenges to self-sufficiency, Housing First must be accompanied by on site supportive services, which is precisely the model of Measure A funded permanent, supportive housing. We are on the right track and must continue to move forward: faster and more broadly and with greater community support.”

“I am proud that San Jose was one of the founding communities for the Biden Administration’s House America initiative,” said Mayor Liccardo. “I look forward to continued federal investment, and our continued partnership with Santa Clara County and our Housing Authority, to bolster collaborative local efforts around permanent affordable and supportive housing, quick-build modular interim housing, and homelessness prevention.”

“Our goal is to be compassionate, collaborative and creative in our approach to solving homelessness,” said Executive Director Prince. “We are committed to bringing the resources we have to help solve this complicated issue. Our MTW status allows for flexibility with our partners, our vouchers support our families, and our capacity as a real estate developer adds much needed housing units to our community. Our Board has already committed over $1.5 billion over the next 20 years of federal assistance to support the development of affordable housing and will continue to dedicate more in support the most vulnerable members of this community.”

“No one entity can end homelessness on its own,” said CEO Loving. “In our community, we are intentional in how we work together – and this coordinated effort has allowed us to house 6,000 homeless individuals and reduce the inflow of new people falling into homeless by 30% in the last two years alone. Our progress shows what is possible when communities commit to addressing this moral crisis together, and with continued investment and support from our state and federal governments, we can end homelessness in this country.”

Launched in September 2021 by Secretary Fudge, in partnership with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), House America: An All-Hands-on-Deck Effort to Address the Nation’s Homelessness Crisis is a federal initiative in which HUD and USICH are inviting mayors, city and county leaders, tribal nation leaders, and governors into a national partnership. House America utilizes the historic investments provided through the American Rescue Plan to address the crisis of homelessness through a Housing First approach. The initiative aims to re-house at least 100,000 households experiencing homelessness through a Housing First approach, and to add at least 20,000 new units of affordable housing into the development pipeline by December 31, 2022. 

In a time when people experiencing homelessness are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 and its impacts on housing affordability and availability, communities have historic housing resources through the American Rescue Plan – 70,000 emergency housing vouchers, $5 billion in HOME-ARP grants, and significant investments to preserve and protect housing on tribal lands – to help more Americans obtain the safety of a stable home. The American Rescue Plan also provides $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds through the Department of the Treasury to support the many needs communities face, including homelessness and housing instability, as they respond to the pandemic and its negative economic impacts. Communities also have resources through the CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and other state, tribal, and local resources to re-house people experiencing homelessness and create additional dedicated housing units to address homelessness.

Since its launch in 2021, House America has made meaningful progress in addressing the homelessness crisis. Highlights to date include:

Today’s announcement came on the heels of the release of HUD’s first-ever funding opportunity for coordinated approaches to address unsheltered homelessness and encampments, including resources for rural communities. That package includes $322 million in Continuum of Care Program grants for supportive services, rental assistance, and other costs for efforts to reduce unsheltered homelessness, including a set-aside of $54.5 million specifically for rural communities. It also includes $43 million to fund approximately 4,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers.

This post was originally published here.