HUD Secretary Considers Shifting Homeless Services to HHS
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez said yesterday that he is considering shifting responsibility for programs addressing homeless individuals with mental illness and substance abuse problems to HHS, the Washington Post reports. Although the housing agency has spent $10 billion over the past decade on programs for the homeless, Martinez said that the "rate of homelessness remained constant, despite boom times across America." Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, said that transferring homeless services to HHS will not bringing down the rate of homelessness, which has grown by one million people in the last 10 years. Roman said that the homeless rate will not decline until factors such as a "lack of affordable housing and inadequate mental health, substance abuse, foster care and welfare programs" are addressed. Roman added that HHS is responsible for providing services to treat individuals with mental illness and drug problems who "happen to be homeless," while HUD is supposed to provide the housing. The transfer would be part of the Bush administration's campaign to "consolidate 'duplicative programs,'" the Post reports. HUD officials said that Martinez will meet with HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to discuss whether there are duplicative services that could be handled by one agency. However, any budget changes would have to be approved by Congress (Nakashima, Washington Post, 4/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.