Strategies for Improving Homeless People’s Access to Mainstream Benefits

Martha R. Burt, Jenneth Carpenter, Samuel G. Hall, Kathryn A. Henderson, Debra J. Rog, John A. Hornik, Ann V. Denton, and Garrett E. Moran

March 2010

In 2000, HUD, in recognition that any solution to homelessness must emphasize housing, targeted its McKinney-Vento Act homeless competitive programs towards housing activities. This policy decision presumed that mainstream programs such as Medicaid, TANF and General Assistance could pick up the slack produced by the change. This study examines how seven communities sought to improve homeless people’s access to mainstream services following this shift away from funding services through the Supportive Housing Program (SHP). By examining the different organizations used and activities undertaken by communities to maximize homeless people’s access to mainstream benefits and services, this study provides communities with models and strategies that they can use. It also highlights the limits of what even the most resourceful of communities can do to enhance service and benefit access by homeless families and individuals.

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