Through emergency housing assistance, including rapid re-housing programs, states can use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to prevent and end homelessness among families. Rapid re-housing programs help families move into housing as quickly as possible after they become homeless, instead of allowing families to spend weeks or months in shelters and transitional programs. These programs also minimize the impact of homelessness on children and provide the stability parents need to find jobs or participate in employment programs.
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memorandum explaining that TANF funds can be used to address the housing-related needs of families who are homeless or precariously housed. Use of TANF funds in this way is consistent with rules on providing benefits and services to needy or eligible families. Families do not need to be receiving TANF cash assistance in order to qualify for housing services.
How can TANF funds be used for housing assistance?
States may adjust cash benefit levels in relation to housing costs.
States can also provide a housing supplement to cash assistance. TANF programs can also provide an array of non-recurrent, short-term benefits and services that are designed to address a specific crisis situation and extend no longer than four months.
For example, TANF may be used for short-term rental or mortgage assistance to prevent eviction or to help a homeless family secure housing. This may include security and utility payments, moving assistance, motel or hotel vouchers, case management services, financial and credit counseling, legal services, housing search and placement services, and related administrative costs.
TANF funds can also support rapid re-housing programs. For example, a partnership between The Road Home and Utah’s Department of Workforce Services provides rapid re-housing assistance combined with employment services to help families with children move into housing quickly. TANF funds provide rental assistance, remove barriers to housing, deliver case management services, and connect families to work supports.
TANF agencies should also be active participants in statewide, regional, and local efforts to prevent and end homelessness, including the Continuum of Care. TANF funds can be used in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s targeted homeless assistance grants program, the Continuum of Care program, and Emergency Solutions Grants program.
To learn more about using TANF funding for housing assistance, visit:
For more information about rapid re-housing, visit:
- United States Interagency Council on Homelessness: Rapid Re-Housing
- Rapid Re-Housing: Successfully Ending Family Homelessness
- Utah’s The Road Home
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