The federal government’s primary response to homelessness is embodied in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It funds proven solutions to homelessness. The bipartisan HEARTH Act of 2009 reauthorized the program to increase its emphasis on using outcomes and research to drive programmatic decisions.

The Homeless Assistance Grants appropriations account funds two programs: the competitive Continuum of Care (CoC) program and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) block grant program. The HEARTH Act consolidated several previous programs into the CoC program, which funds proven interventions, like cost-effective permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people. The ESG block grant funds emergency shelter and adds a new focus on the cost-efficient interventions of homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.