The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge called on local leaders to join a HUD-led initiative to create more homes in America.
House America is a federal initiative in which HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) invite mayors, county leaders, Tribal nation leaders, and governors to partner and use funds provided through the American Rescue Plan to address homelessness.
House America is the federal government’s direct response to this crisis, which was rising even before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release from HUD announcing the initiative's next steps.
"When most Americans were told to stay safe from COVID-19 by staying home, more than 580,000 Americans could not do so because they had no home," reads the department's program fact sheet. "People experiencing homelessness have had to endure the pandemic in crowded settings where social distancing is impossible, or outside without access to hygiene facilities and other basic needs. No one should have to experience homelessness, let alone suffer a global pandemic, without the safety of a home."
The American Rescue Plan, according to HUD, has added 70,000 emergency housing vouchers, $5 billion in HOME grants, and significant investments to preserve and protect housing on tribal lands and provides $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds through the Department of the Treasury to combat homelessness and housing instability.
Using funds from the CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and other state, tribal, and local initiatives, municipalities have resources to re-house people and create additional dedicated housing units, according to HUD.
Secretary Fudge has called on state, tribal, and local leaders to partner with HUD to use American Rescue Plan resources, alongside other federal, tribal, state, and local resources to set and achieve ambitious goals to re-house families and to add new units of affordable housing (unit creation) into the development pipeline by December 31, 2022.
These leaders can leaders can join the initiative by passing a proclamation or issuing a letter, setting their goals, building their team, and managing to the achievement of their goals, Fudge said, adding that they will have the support of HUD and other agencies through tools, technical assistance, direct regular communication, data support, and peer-to-peer learning.
"House America provides communities with the focus, resolve, and technical know-how needed to deploy these resources to maximize impact," HUD reported. "Collectively, we will troubleshoot challenges, track our progress, and recognize our achievements in housing our most vulnerable neighbors."
At a hearing last month Fudge said the President’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022 requests $68.7 billion for HUD. "This represents an increase of $9 billion—or 15%—from our enacted funding from the previous fiscal year," Fudge said.
In April, President Biden requested his fiscal year 2022 discretionary funding budget, which set aside $68 billion-plus for HUD and programs dedicated to the nation’s equitable housing designed to reduce the racial wealth gap.