Homelessness:

Too Early to Tell What Kinds of Prevention Assistance Work Best

RCED-90-89: Published: Apr 24, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1990.

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GAO reviewed a variety of federal, state, and local homelessness prevention program eligibility requirements and limitations.

GAO found that: (1) financial resources devoted to homelessness prevention consistently fell short of demand; (2) only a few state and local organizations had the resources available to collect follow-up data needed for program evaluations; (3) homelessness prevention assistance usually consisted of one-time rent, mortgage, or utility payments, and counseling; (4) some state and local organizations chose to provide a mix of emergency and prevention assistance to those who were already homeless; and (5) some programs ran out of funds or had to limit their assistance to individuals.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Although Congress has enacted some legislative provisions related to evaluation of homelessness prevention activities, they do not directly respond to the recommendation. Given that recent budget restraints are likely to continue in the foreseeable future, it appears unlikely that Congress will require, or specifically set aside funds for, the more extensive effort GAO recommended.

    Matter: Because of the limited amount of resources available to assistance providers, Congress should consider requiring and setting funds aside for providers to collect the data needed to evaluate homelessness prevention activities. Decisions regarding the type of data needed to make such evaluations and the conduct of the evaluations could be coordinated through the Interagency Council on the Homeless.

 

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