Visiting "Martha's Table" center for homeless adults and children, President George W. Bush talks with volunteer Connie Jeremiah December 20. The president helped pack sandwiches into carrying crates at the center which has been providing food to the hungry since 1980.
Eric Draper

The department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a record $1.3 billion for Housing and Homelessness programs this year, with a total of $62 million going to Maryland, Virginia and the District. Though the national amount is up only slightly from last year’s $1.1 billion allocation, it is part of a 9% increase in funds dedicated to homeless services across all agencies. 

This overall increase, announced in late December, is part of a 10-year strategy to end chronic homelessness and its assistance programs that was proposed by President George Bush early on his term. Forty-one states, including Maryland and Virginia, and dozens of cities, including Washington, DC, have in place or are developing their own 10-year plans. 

Research indicates that approximately 10% of all homeless people are chronically homeless and use 50% of service providers’ resources. Consequently, the majority of the money is going toward transitional housing, with only a little more than 1% of the funding going toward emergency shelter and other emergency services.  

“For moral, spiritual and life-saving reasons, we have to end chronic homelessness,” said Phillip Mangano, the executive director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness. 

All of the funding will be distributed to more than 3,700 projects across the country and is expected to reach 700,000 homeless men, women, and children. About $170 million of the funding will also be available through faith-based organizations; this is a record amount for this group of service providers. 

And organizations that support veterans, one of fastest growing segments of the homeless population, will receive $640 million in funding. 

“With these and other resources, we offer a whole strategy of intervention and prevention of homelessness,” Mangano said.