The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced the first round of funding allocations for the department’s new Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing program.

This first-of-its-kind program – known as RUSH – aims to fill gaps in federal disaster recovery funding, which often leaves vulnerable households hit by natural disasters displaced from their homes and needing immediate help while awaiting longer-term federal disaster recovery aid.  

The first round of funding, announced Oct. 24, provides $6.8 million to Florida, which includes $3 million in general funding for the state and additional amounts for seven locations impacted by Hurricane Ian.


In June, HUD announced $322 million in Continuum of Care (CoC) Program grants through a Special Notice of Funding Opportunity to fund homeless outreach, permanent housing, supportive services, and other costs as part of a comprehensive community approach to solve unsheltered homelessness. The funds are from recaptured unspent CoC Programs pursuant to Section 231 of the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill for the 2020 fiscal year. Section 231 also gave HUD the authority to make grants under the Emergency Solutions Grants program to address the needs of individuals or families experiencing homelessness or people at risk of homelessness in areas affected by a major disaster.

HUD has $56 million set aside for this program using this funding. Based on further damage assessments, HUD will announce the second round of RUSH funding by the end of the year.

According to HUD, the RUSH program will:

  • Fill a gap in federal disaster assistance for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. People who were already experiencing homelessness before a disaster have very limited eligibility for FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance. Because FEMA does not provide long-term housing assistance, when short-term FEMA assistance ends, many displaced people wind up at risk of experiencing long-term homelessness. Adding to the problem is that rents often increase after disasters. RUSH fills this gap, giving communities much-needed resources to provide long-term housing for people experiencing pre-disaster homelessness and to prevent long-term homelessness among newly-displaced people.
  • Provide help to people most at risk. RUSH funding will be available to support people who are experiencing homelessness – those individuals living in an emergency shelter, transitional housing, or a place not meant for human habitation – and people at risk of homelessness – individuals earning below 30 percent of area median income and either living in severe overcrowding, facing eviction in the next 21 days, or with another risk factor for homelessness. 
  • Provide funding for eligible housing activities. These activities include emergency shelter; rapid re-housing, which provides up to 24 months of rental assistance, financial assistance for move-in costs, and supportive services for people currently experiencing homelessness; homelessness prevention, which provides up to 24 months of rental assistance, utility assistance, and supportive services for people at risk of homelessness; and outreach assistance, including assistance to meet urgent needs, for people who are unsheltered.
  • Streamline the consultation and public participation requirements for the standard Emergency Solutions Grant program. The program – known as ESG – normally requires extensive consultation and public participation to plan for and use funding. HUD has the authority to reduce those requirements for jurisdictions affected by a natural disaster. For the first allocation, there will be no consultation or public participation requirements. For the second allocation, recipients will have to provide a five-day comment period rather than the normal 30-day period.
  • Eliminate the match requirement for the standard ESG program. ESG normally has a 100% recipient match requirement, but HUD will waive that requirement using RUSH authority.

HUD states that due to its limited funding, it will not be able to assist communities after every disaster. Funds from the RUSH program will only be allocated after FEMA activation of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance. The first allocation of funding uses existing data on the extent of homelessness and the capacity of recipients to administer homeless assistance programs, which is measured by recipients’ expenditure of at least 60% of the CARES Act’s ESG funds.

HUD’s Long-term Disaster Recovery Resources

HUD has created toolkits to assist community recovery efforts, including:

  • The Community Resilience Toolkit, designed to assist communities in enhancing their resilience to climate-related natural hazard risks.
  • HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research’s Disaster Recovery Toolkit, which offers lists of relevant resources to aid homeowners and property owners in the disaster recovery process.

Enterprise applauds HUD’s efforts in addressing gaps in disaster relief aid and the growing unsheltered homelessness crisis. To stay up to date on federal disaster recovery and homelessness policy issues, please subscribe to our Today in Housing and Capitol Express newsletters.  

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