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  • The Center for Rural Homelessness

What is McKinney-Vento Title V?

By: Katie Baughman, Policy Intern


Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, signed into law in 1987, allows surplus Federal properties to be used by homeless assistance programs. It provides homeless assistance programs and providers with the “first right of refusal” for unused or excess properties, allowing program applicants to apply for no-cost leases for properties. Title V is an interdepartmental effort, primarily administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which canvasses federal landholding agencies quarterly about unused properties and then determines the suitability of these properties for use by homeless assistance programs. There are a variety of criteria for suitability, including national security concerns as well as structural damages and accessibility of the building. After a property has been determined suitable, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for transferring properties to approved applicants. Over 500 properties have been reallocated to homeless assistance programs since the program’s start in 1987. An estimated 2 million individuals each year have benefitted from Title V program buildings. 

Buildings allocated through Title V are provided free and “as is,” for lease terms ranging from one to twenty years. Title V does not provide funding for the renovation or upkeep of buildings. These buildings can be used by successful community, state, and nonprofit homelessness assistance applicants to provide shelter for homeless individuals or provide services such as meals, job training, and mental health services. 


While Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act exists throughout the country, it currently has a limited amount of properties, with few active allocations in rural areas. Since 1987, according to data from the HHS, most of the federal buildings deemed suitable by HUD have not received applications from state or local homelessness organizations, often due to inconvenient location or other requirements for use, such as the requirement that buildings be moved off-site or actively put into use by homelessness organizations in less than one year. For many rural homelessness nonprofits and local organizations, who often have limited resources, these requirements may be even more difficult to meet. Additionally, many rural areas do not have excess governmental properties available. However, for rural communities that do have successful Title V applications and properties, Title V can be a great resource in fighting homelessness.

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