HUD: First Round of Funding through New Rapid Response Program Deployed to Address Homelessness in Areas Hit by Disaster

Initial Allocation of $6.8 Million to Florida and Seven of the State’s Localities


Today, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge will travel to Orlando, Florida, where she will announce the first round of funding allocations through the department’s new Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) program, a rapid response program to address homelessness by filling in federal assistance gaps in communities hit by disasters. The first round of funding will consist of $6.8 million to the State of Florida and seven of the state’s localities impacted by Hurricane Ian.

Secretary Fudge believes that we have an obligation to meet the long-term housing and services needs of people experiencing homelessness whose needs are exacerbated by disasters, and people who are at-risk of longer-term homelessness as a result of disasters. By allocating these funds, Secretary Fudge is delivering for these individuals and families and underscoring the important role HUD plays in long-term disaster recovery.

Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH)

HUD has funding available to allocate to states and localities for severe disasters under the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program. Given its unique nature, HUD is referring to this funding as the new Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) program. RUSH funding is available to help communities provide outreach, emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, and other assistance to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness who are in a disaster affected area but who cannot access all services provided by FEMA programs.

HUD is using new reallocation authority provided by section 231 of its FY 2020 appropriation. HUD currently has $56 million set aside for this purpose and plans to make the first allocation under this authority to the State of Florida and seven Florida localities to assist communities affected by Hurricane Ian.

RUSH will:

  • RUSH will fill a gap in federal disaster assistance for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. People experiencing pre-disaster homelessness have very limited eligibility for FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA). Because FEMA doesn’t provide long-term housing assistance, when short-term FEMA assistance ends, many displaced people wind up at risk of staying homeless long term. Adding to the problem is that rents often increase after disasters. RUSH fills this gap in assistance, giving communities much-needed resources to provide long-term housing solutions for people experiencing pre-disaster homelessness and to prevent long-term homelessness among newly-displaced people.
  • To provide assistance to those most at risk, RUSH funding will be available to support people experiencing homelessness – those living in an emergency shelter, transitional housing, or a place not meant for human habitation – and people at risk of homelessness – those who have below 30 percent of area median income and either live in severe overcrowding, face eviction in the next 21 days, or have another risk factor for homelessness.
  • RUSH provides funding for eligible activities including emergency shelter; rapid re-housing, which provides up to 24 months of rental assistance, financial assistance for move in costs, and supportive services for people currently experiencing homelessness; homelessness prevention, which provides up to 24 months of rental assistance, utility assistance, and supportive services for people at risk of homelessness; and outreach assistance, including assistance to meet urgent needs, for people who are unsheltered.
  • RUSH will streamline the consultation and public participation requirements for the standard ESG program. The ESG program normally requires extensive consultation and public participation to plan for and utilize funding. HUD has authority to reduce those requirements for the disaster: for the first allocation, there will be no consultation or public participation requirements, and for the second allocation, recipients will have to provide for a five-day comment period rather than the normal 30-day period.
  • RUSH will eliminate the match requirement for the standard ESG program. ESG normally has a 100% recipient match requirement, but HUD will waive that requirement using RUSH authority.

Because RUSH has limited funds, it cannot assist communities after every disaster. For this first round of funding, HUD is providing allocations only after FEMA activation of Transitional Sheltering Assistance, which is done in disasters where there is a high level of displacement and lasting damage to housing. RUSH is responding to the surge in shelter needs that has the knock-on effect of potentially forcing out persons experiencing homelessness prior to the disaster.

To balance the need to rapidly assist people affected by disaster and accurately allocate funds based on need, HUD will use a two-step allocation process. This first allocation will utilize existing data on the extent of homelessness and the capacity of recipients to administer homeless assistance programs (measured by expenditure of at least 60% of supplemental ESG funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus). The second allocation will come later in 2022 and will employ data on the extent of damage, particularly for rental units occupied by very-low-income households.

Grantee/PJ NameTotal RUSH Allocation*
Collier County$861,716
Florida$3,000,000
Lee County$288,673
Orlando$666,918
Polk County$374,935
Seminole County$386,784
Tampa$799,599
Volusia County$391,184
TOTAL $6,769,809
*Maximum Step 1 allocations are: $1 million local; $3 million state 


HUD’s Role in Long-Term Disaster Recovery

Following disasters, HUD’s primary role is to facilitate long-term recovery and meet long-term housing needs. RUSH goes beyond temporary, short-term assistance to ensure that impacted individuals and families are still being served down the line.

HUD’s long-term recovery assistance also includes:

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