The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded nearly $201 million to support 731 new local homeless programs nationwide. This funding will provide critically needed emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent support for individuals and families. The grants included $15.7 million to support 103 new housing and service programs in rural communities as part as HUD's efforts to confront rural homelessness.

HUD also recently awarded $1.47 billion to renew funding to more than 7,100 existing local homeless programs operating across the country.

According to the latest data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties, homelessness declined 2.1 percent between 2010 and 2011.