Homelessness:

Status of the Surplus Property Program, the Interagency Council on the Homeless, and FEMA's EFS Program

T-RCED-90-98: Published: Jul 19, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1990.

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GAO discussed the: (1) use of federal property for the homeless; (2) activities of the Interagency Council on the Homeless; and (3) Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program. GAO found that: (1) from January to June 1990, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reviewed approximately 7,700 properties for potential use by the homeless and found that 52 percent were suitable as emergency shelters and facilities; (2) not all properties identified as suitable were usable because they were too distant from homeless populations; (3) publicity for available properties and federal guidance on how to obtain properties was inadequate; and (4) providers were unable to arrange financing to renovate existing structures or build new structures on leased property. GAO also found that: (1) the Interagency Council on the Homeless made significant changes to develop policies and guidance to direct its activities, conduct on-site visits to assistance providers, and provide technical assistance to providers through regional workshops; (2) in fiscal year 1989, about 65 percent of EFS program funds were used to supplement emergency food and shelter supplies, and the remaining 35 percent were used for rent, mortgage, and utility payments; and (3) FEMA has shortened the time it takes to send out program funds to service organizations.

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