Data released by the National Homeless Information Project shows how HUD’s funding formula puts smaller communities, like ours, at a disadvantage when it comes to ending homelessness.
The report looks at how much funding each COC receives and the number of unhoused individuals that reside in the COC. In 2021, for every person experiencing homelessness in our community, Okaloosa and Walton County received $2,018 from HUD to rehouse and stabilize that individual. This is less than the national average of $4,580.00 per person, and a tiny fraction of the funding big cities receive to address homelessness. Miami received more than $11,000 per person. Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale each received more than $5,000 per person.
At HHA we are committed to ending homelessness in our community. Part of that is fighting for resources to support rehousing individuals and families who find themselves without a home. The inequities in the national funding formula make that difficult. While we live in a generous community that tries to fill the gaps left from federal funding, moving toward a more equitable distribution of those funds would enable our community to more quickly realize the dream of making homelessness in Okaloosa County brief, rare, and non-recurring.
The current formula focuses on population, poverty, and overcrowding. This leaves smaller communities, especially those with high costs of living, limited housing inventory, a high percentage of rural poor at a disadvantage. In 2016, HUD solicited comments on updating the formula. However, no significant changes have been made, and inequalities persist to the detriment of our community.