Ken Martin

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) is offering a helping hand to municipal governments that want access to thousands of free properties from the federal government to permanently house homeless people.

The NLCHP launched its Public Property/Public Needtoolkit Monday to help state and local governments and nonprofit organizations find and apply for property available under Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, NLCHP said in a press release. The program was started in 1987, and in December the government clarified that federal property can be used to permanently house homeless people.

“The program provides eligible homeless service providers with a right of first refusal to properties no longer needed by the federal government — including warehouses, administrative buildings, and vacant land,” NLCHP said. “The federal government is required to deed or lease these properties to successful applicants for free.”

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of NLCHP and primary architect of the original McKinney-Vento Act, said in a statement that the program was a sustainable and cost-effective way to combat homelessness.

“Permanent housing is the most effective and cost-effective solution to homelessness,” Foscarinis said.

“Through the Title V program, cities and nonprofit service providers can turn federal properties that are now sitting vacant — and costing taxpayers money — into housing and services, ending homelessness in a sustainable and cost-effective way.”

While 2 million people have been housed in 500 buildings on nearly 900 acres of land, NLCHP said it is only a “small fraction” of the program’s potential impact.

Courtesy of Thrive Detroit /