Federal Spending on Homelessness

On a single night in 2016-549,928 people experienced homelessness in the United States.

Multiple federal, state, and local programs offer support to people experiencing homelessness. Our visualizations display federal financial data to show the breakdown of funding spent to address homelessness.

Part 1: How individuals experiencing homelessness are counted

People experiencing homelessness are counted once a year (in late January) by grantees who receive funding from HUD's Continuum of Care program. This program is the largest federal program related to homelessness. It requires grantees to collect reliable data on the total number of people experiencing homelessness who reside in . . .

To zoom into the map below, double-click on a region. To re-orient the map, double-click on a new region. To zoom out, double-click on the region last clicked on.

  • HUD PIT Count
  • CFDA.gov
  • Grants data from beta.usaspending.gov

* White areas with no hover-over represent areas of the country that are not represented by a Continuum of Care area.
** Since the shapefile used in the above visualization was created, several CoC's have merged with the balance of state CoC. These CoC's are: IN-500, LA-504, MA-518, and ME-502. We edited the shape file so that the hover over and color for these CoC's reflect the new information but the boundaries for the old CoC are still included in the map.

Part 2: Federal programs that address homelessness

The Department of Housing and Urban Development plays a lead role in federal efforts to address homelessness, although multiple federal agencies manage programs that provide services including education, employment, housing resources, and more.

Our analysis identified 33 federal programs that explicitly flagged . . .

To zoom into the map below, double-click on a region. To re-orient the map, double-click on a new region. To zoom out, double-click on the region last clicked on.

To select a different CoC area and update the charts, single-click a different region. Single-click the bars on the charts to visit a website describing each program in depth.

  • HUD PIT Count
  • CFDA.gov
  • Grants data from beta.usaspending.gov

Federal Spending on Homelessness by Region

Federal grant awards by Continuum of Care Area

*This chart shows dollars awarded to the state government and any awards with in the state that could not be linked to a continuum of care due to data quality issues.

Final Thoughts

As these visualizations depict, thousands of people are homeless across the United States. We hope that this analysis show how federal funding impacts homelessness and can serve as a useful tool for state and local governments, as well as private institutions, who are working to reduce homelessness. In addition, we chose to conduct this analysis because it features data from across multiple federal agencies, which is all available in one dataset. Analysts and users who have ideas for other types of analyses, whether featuring contracts or financial assistance across the federal government, can use the Data Lab's Analyst Guide for guidance and hints as they use the data.

How we conducted this analysis

We conducted this analysis using data from the following sources:

To accurately determine the amount the federal government spends addressing homelessness, we reviewed federal program descriptions using the CFDA, looking for any mention of keywords related to homelessness.

We developed a ranking system to assess whether individuals experiencing homelessness would directly benefit from these programs, and categorized these programs by the type of service they provide.1

For example, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program provides services to homeless veterans looking for jobs, which we classified as employment related. We presented these programs to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, who recommended that we remove several programs where the preponderance of funds went to beneficiaries other than individuals experiencing homelessness.

We used this dataset to identify all grant spending from USAspending.gov for the programs we determined to have a direct relation to homelessness. As part of our analysis, we identified two categories of grant awards in USAspending.gov data that are relevant to our work:

  • grant awards for a Continuum of Care area (an administrative region recognized by HUD) or were awarded to organizations within its geographic area;
  • grant awards that didn't have specific location data; and
  • grant awards that supported organizations across a state.

To create our visualization, we mapped funding amounts for the programs that fell within a Continuum of Care area using mapping files provided by HUD. The data used in this story was updated as of January 2018.

1 https://github.com/fedspendingtransparency/datalab/tree/dev/assets/homelessness-documents

2 As an example, we included a program managed by the Department of Health and Human Services called Grants for New and Expanded Services under the Health Center Program, which provides funding for expanded and sustained national investment in health centers, even though people experiencing homelessness were one type of beneficiary listed, along with migrant workers, public housing residents, and others. We did not include programs intended to address poverty or that provide resources for low-income individuals if homeless individuals were not specifically mentioned as a type of beneficiary.

3 Federal, state, and local fiscal years do not always align to the same time frame; the purpose here is to make a broad comparison.