U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a second round of grants for more than 500 local homeless housing and service programs across the U.S, provided through HUD’s Continuum of Care Program. This year, HUD challenged local communities to reexamine their response to homelessness and give greater weight to proven strategies, from providing ‘rapid re-housing’ for homeless families to permanent supportive housing for those experiencing chronic homelessness. The $72 million in grants announced support a wide range of programs including street outreach, client assessment, and direct housing assistance. In March, HUD awarded more than $1.5 billion in a first round of grant funding to renew support more than 7,000 other local programs. HUD will make a third round of funding to support selected new projects later this year “We know these modest investments in housing and serving our homeless neighbors not only saves money, but saves lives,” said Donovan. “These local programs are on the front lines of the Obama Administration’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness as we know it once and for all.” Continuum of Care grants are awarded competitively to local projects to meet the needs of their homeless clients. The grants fund a wide variety of programs from street outreach and assessment to transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons and families. HUD funds are a critical part of the Obama Administration’s strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. While the Fiscal Year 2012 funds awarded today are not impacted by the automatic across-the-board budget cuts under sequestration that began March 1, Donovan cautioned that future budget cuts may reverse significant reported declines in homelessness: “During this challenging budget climate, we must make certain that we don’t balance our books on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. When we make event modest investments in these programs, we see a measureable decline in homelessness.” HUD recently announced its 2012 “point in time” estimate of the number of homeless persons in America. Approximately 3,000 cities and counties reported 633,782 homeless persons on a single night in January of 2012, largely unchanged from the year before. While HUD found significant declines among the long-term homeless and veterans, local communities reported an increase in the number of sheltered and unsheltered families with children. HUD’s Continuum of Care grants also announced that it will continue offering 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.