McKinney Act Programs Provide Assistance but Are Not Designed to Be the Solution Gao ID: RCED-94-37 May 31, 1994

The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 established emergency food and shelter programs; programs providing longer-term housing and supportive services; and programs designed to demonstrate effective approaches for providing the homeless with other services, such as physical and mental health, education, and job training. GAO evaluated the act's impact in Baltimore, Maryland; San Antonio, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and St. Louis, Missouri. This report discusses (1) what difference the McKinney Act programs have made in these cities' efforts to help the homeless, (2) what problems the cities have experienced with McKinney Act programs, and (3) what directions the cities' programs for the homeless are taking and what gaps the McKinney Act programs may fill.

GAO found that: (1) McKinney Act programs are an important source of funds for improving emergency services to the homeless, developing long-term housing options, assisting mentally ill and substance-abusing homeless persons, providing limited education and employment training, and leveraging funds from other sources; (2) McKinney Act programs foster cooperation and coordination among local service providers; (3) Congress has authorized funding renewal for housing projects to sustain the delivery of effective services; (4) local providers find the programs' duplicative application and reporting requirements burdensome; (5) officials do not agree on how to consolidate McKinney Act programs; (6) federal agencies do not plan to disseminate information on McKinney Act program evaluations or incorporate successful service strategies into their mainstream assistance programs; (7) although McKinney Act programs are important to supporting future efforts, they do not fully address the problem of homelessness because of the lack of affordable housing, stagnant economies, and funding reductions; and (8) local officials would like increased funding for McKinney Act programs, to fill gaps in prevention, long-term housing, and comprehensive services.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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