Homeless people in HUD-funded shelters and transitional and permanent supportive housing programs often need benefits and services from welfare, health, mental health, and other mainstream systems to help them stabilize their lives. Many find it hard to access these systems, however. As HUD homeless-related resources have shifted from 60 to 33 percent going to services in the past five years, this study's central question was how communities have compensated. We found that communities evolved smoothing, expanding, and changing mechanisms to reduce access barriers and that highly organized communities were most successful. But federal program regulations limit what local communities can accomplish.
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