Using TANF Funds for Housing-Related Benefits to Prevent Homelessness
Under the final regulations for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant program (TANF), states and counties may use federal TANF funds for short-term homelessness prevention measures without triggering the federal 60-month lifetime time limit on receipt of TANF-funded assistance or other restrictions associated with TANF funds. This is important because many states and counties are not using their full federal TANF block grant and may be willing to initiate or expand homelessness prevention programs using TANF funds. In addition, the flexibility afforded by the federal regulations allows states and counties to design such programs to serve a broad range of low-income families, not just families receiving monthly TANF cash benefits. States and counties that are funding homelessness prevention programs in part with state maintenance-of-effort (MOE) funds may wish to replace these MOE funds with TANF funds, thereby freeing up MOE monies they can use to provide other benefits. TANF restrictions like time limits are triggered when states or counties provide housing-related benefits that are not short-term, unless the benefits are provided entirely with MOE funds that are accounted for separately from TANF funds. States and counties that wish to provide such ongoing housing benefits to families that are not receiving monthly TANF cash benefits would be advised to use MOE funds in these cases so the months of assistance do not count against the federal time limit.
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Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities