Key Issues > Homelessness
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In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the issue of homelessness, in part because the economic downturn has placed more individuals and households at risk of homelessness. Federal homelessness programs are fragmented across multiple agencies and some show evidence of overlap.

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Federal programs for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness generally are designed to provide housing assistance and other services such as health care, job training, or substance abuse treatment. The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Veterans Affairs (VA)—are responsible for the majority of programs. For example:

  • HUD is the primary agency providing funding for housing, such as emergency shelters, permanent housing, and transitional housing. In addition, HUD collects data on homelessness in part to assist with service planning on the federal level.
  • HHS and VA typically operate programs or provide funding for supportive services such as health care, substance abuse treatment, and employment assistance, though most VA programs are available only to men and women who have served in the military and been discharged under honorable or general circumstances.

These agencies and the Department of Labor have multiple programs that offer similar services to similar beneficiaries. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness is required to coordinate the federal response to homelessness and has taken several steps to coordinate efforts and promote initiatives across federal agencies, including developing a strategic plan.

Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Veteran Homelessness:

VA and HUD Are Working to Improve Data on Supportive Housing Program
Published: Jun 26, 2012. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 2012.


Fragmentation and Overlap in Programs Highlight the Need to Identify, Assess, and Reduce Inefficiencies
Published: May 10, 2012. Publicly Released: May 10, 2012.

Homeless Women Veterans:

Actions Needed to Ensure Safe and Appropriate Housing
Published: Dec 23, 2011. Publicly Released: Jan 23, 2012.

Rural Homelessness:

Better Collaboration by HHS and HUD Could Improve Delivery of Services in Rural Areas
Published: Jul 20, 2010. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 2010.


A Common Vocabulary Could Help Agencies Collaborate and Collect More Consistent Data
Published: Jun 30, 2010. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 2010.

More Reports

Veterans Affairs:

Better Understanding Needed to Enhance Services to Veterans Readjusting to Civilian Life
Published: Sep 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2014.

Land-Use Agreements:

Department of Veterans Affairs Needs to Improve Data Reliability and Monitoring
Published: Aug 18, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 2014.

Education of Homeless Students:

Improved Program Oversight Needed
Published: Jul 31, 2014. Publicly Released: Aug 22, 2014.

Managing for Results:

Implementation Approaches Used to Enhance Collaboration in Interagency Groups
Published: Feb 14, 2014. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 2014.

Budget Issues:

Key Questions to Consider When Evaluating Balances in Federal Accounts
Published: Sep 30, 2013. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 2013.

Health Center Program:

2011 Grant Award Process Highlighted Need and Special Populations and Merits Evaluation
Published: May 29, 2012. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 2012.


To Improve Data and Programs, Agencies Have Taken Steps to Develop a Common Vocabulary
Published: Dec 15, 2011. Publicly Released: Dec 15, 2011.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:

Temporary Emergency Impact Aid Provided Education Support for Displaced Students
Published: Sep 7, 2011. Publicly Released: Sep 7, 2011.

Tax Policy and Administration:

Federal Real Property:

The Government Faces Challenges to Disposing of Unneeded Buildings
Published: Feb 10, 2011. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 2011.
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