Home / Press Room / Press Releases / HUD No. 23-088

HUD No. 23-088
HUD Public Affairs
(202) 708-0685
May 1, 2023


On April 28, 2023, Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), authored an op-ed in The Hill on how HUD’s programs can reduce unsheltered homelessness, humanely addressing homeless encampments and putting people first.

To address homeless encampments, we must put housing first

[city encampment]

BY MARCIA L. FUDGE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 04/28/23 7:00 PM ET April 27, 2023

On a cold night in 2022, I met a woman settling into a tattered sleeping bag on the sidewalk. She was one of dozens of people living in a city park I and several aide workers visited for the annual count of our nation’s homeless population. The woman, who I will call Gladys, was in her 50s. Gladys had been sleeping in that park for a few months, though she had been homeless for much longer. Unlike the others at the park, she had no tent to shield her from the elements and, when we met, she had been holding and talking to a doll. When offered an opportunity to sleep in a shelter that night, Gladys said yes. While I was grateful that Gladys was protected that night from the cold, I know that what she really needed was a home.

As the 18th secretary of Housing and Urban Development, I carry stories like hers with me every day. People experiencing homelessness in America are not nameless or otherwise anonymous. They are our neighbors and our family members. Many are our nation’s seniors, people with disabilities, and people with chronic health conditions. Often, they have faced some of life’s most difficult circumstances and injustices. In the greatest nation on earth, no one, regardless of their circumstances, should have to sleep on the cold hard ground of a city park. Yet hundreds of thousands of people in America spend night-after-night sleeping in parks, on our streets, in tents, under bridges, in cars, and next to riverbanks.

At the federal level, we are doing all we can to address the homelessness crisis with the urgency it requires. From day one, the Biden-Harris administration has provided an unprecedented level of resources to reduce and prevent homelessness, including Emergency Housing Vouchers and funding to build new affordable and supportive housing. But, solving homelessness for people in encampments requires new approaches and resources specifically intended to reach them.

HUD is further expanding resources and support to communities to address unsheltered and rural homelessness. With this week’s announcement, a total of 62 communities across the country, both urban and rural, will receive $486 million in grants, more than 3,300 housing vouchers, and technical assistance to connect people experiencing unsheltered homelessness to housing and supportive services like health care and behavioral health treatment. These resources and support will enable communities to help people like Gladys find the dignity and safety of a home. They will allow leaders to resolve, not just relocate, encampments, and make their communities stronger and healthier.

Clearing encampments without helping people find a place to live doesn’t solve the problem, it just relocates it. We can do better than designating new areas where people can remain homeless. There is another choice. We can connect people with much-needed housing and supportive services without attaching unnecessary strings to that help. We can reduce the stigma, skepticism, and shame that people in unsheltered settings often face and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.

When we focus on quickly transitioning people from homelessness to permanent housing, it works. Take veteran homelessness: there has been a 55 percent reduction in former service members sleeping on the streets since 2010 because our government has worked as quickly as possible to transition homeless veterans to permanent housing and provide them access to supportive services. If we take the same approach to addressing unsheltered homelessness, by directly engaging with unhoused people and offering them real support, we can solve this crisis.

A small, but growing, number of communities are already demonstrating just how possible it is to humanely and effectively address encampments. They are employing emergency management methods to deliver care and treating unsheltered homelessness like the humanitarian disaster it is. My challenge, today and every day, is for more communities to do the same.

My hope is that the investments HUD is providing these 62 communities will serve as an example of the power our government has to solve some of the most vexing challenges.


HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
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