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Bush has plan to fight 'chronic' homelessness

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration outlined a $35 million initiative Friday to stamp out chronic homelessness, targeting people with addictions or disabilities, who have lived on the streets for over a year.

The effort reallocates existing funding from three federal agencies -- Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services and the Veterans Administration -- into programs that provide permanent housing and social services for the homeless.

HUD Secretary Mel Martinez said he would like to eliminate chronic homelessness within 10 years.

"This joint collaboration on homelessness has never been tried before. Yet it makes perfect sense," Martinez said in a speech Friday at a conference of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

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The iniyative was coordinated by the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness, which on Thursday met for the first time in six years.

Currently, 14 federal programs totaling $2.2 billion a year help the homeless in America. HUD provides nearly half of that funding.

The government estimates that about 2.5 million Americans experience homelessness every year, with 10 percent who are chronically homeless.

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