Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge on Thursday announced that nearly $5 billion from last month’s COVID-19 relief package will go to states and local governments to battle homelessness.

She said the funding was allocated to 651 various jurisdictions to provide housing and other services for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“Homelessness in the United States was increasing even before COVID-19, and we know the pandemic has only made the crisis worse,” Fudge said.

“HUD’s swift allocation of this $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding reflects our commitment to addressing homelessness as a priority. With this strong funding, communities across the country will have the resources needed to give homes to the people who have had to endure the COVID-19 pandemic without one.”

The $5 billion so-called HOME Investment Partnerships Program was passed as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on March 6. The funding can be used to develop affordable housing, assist tenants with rent, acquire shelters and secure other services through 2030.

HUD plans to release another tranche of American Rescue Plan funds targeting homelessness in the coming weeks.

Fudge announced the allocation of the funds Thursday in a video conference call with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Birmingham, Ala., Mayor Randall Woodfin.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened our nation’s homelessness crisis but with this assistance comes new hope,” Woodfin said. “It will represent a new start for so many families after such a challenging year, especially minority families who were hit so disproportionately hard by the pandemic. We’re grateful that these funds will help pave the way for a new generation of minority homeowners.”

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