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13 Best Government Grants and Loans for Homeless Shelters

According to Business Dictionary, a grant is a bounty, contribution, gift, or subsidy (in cash or kind) bestowed by a government or other organization (called the grantor) for specified purposes to an eligible recipient (called the grantee).

Grants are usually conditional upon certain qualifications as to the use, maintenance of specified standards, or a proportional contribution by the grantee or other grantor(s).

The federal grant money that homeless shelters or nonprofits receive is public, taxpayer money. It simply means the federal government is obligated to award grants to nonprofits (and others) through an open, transparent, and objective review process.

But objective does not mean easy! Have it in mind that government grant applications are the most demanding to prepare and competition for government funding is strong. If you are just starting out as a grant professional, you need help applying for federal grants.

Note that the availability of funding in any year depends on the federal budget and on the priorities of the federal agencies that run the grant competition. Owing to that, the amount of money available for federal grants to homeless shelters or nonprofits tend to be heavily influenced by the political environment, national concerns, and national events.

Tuning into the national scene will help your homeless shelter understand where federal grant money comes from and where it will go. This knowledge will help you get government funding for your community. Grants can provide different types of support for your homeless shelter.

Operating support or unrestricted funding is a grant for day-to-day operating costs. It is not dedicated to a particular purpose or project. Capital support is most commonly awarded for specific capital campaigns that involve building construction or acquisition, land acquisition, renovations, remodeling, or the rehabilitating of property.

And Program development grants or restricted funding provide funding for a particular purpose or project. Once you have obtained one grant, you are more likely to receive others. Also, receiving grants is a good way to build your organization’s visibility and credibility.

Howbeit, grants can be quite time-consuming. It first takes time to develop grant-writing skills that actually win grant proposals, then it takes time to write a winning application, and then it can take quite a while for you to see the funds in your bank account.

Also, note that grants usually come with strings attached. Normally, there are conditions that will refer to how exactly you can use the money. These conditions can also be related to particular program outputs or outcomes.

Available Government Grants and Loans for Homeless Shelters

A good number of government grants go to eligible nonprofits organizations, not to individuals. Here are top sources of government grants and loans for homeless shelters in the United States;

  1. Basic Center Program

BCPs work to create or strengthen community-based programs that meet the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth and their families. BCPs offer youths under 18 years of age emergency shelter, food, clothing, counseling, and referrals for healthcare.

BCPs can provide up to 21 days of shelter for youths and seeks to reunite young people with their families, whenever possible, or to locate appropriate alternative placements. 

Extra services may include street-based services; home-based services for families with youths at risk of separation from the family; drug abuse education and prevention services; and at the request of runaway and homeless youths, testing for sexually transmitted diseases.


This is the official grant site of the federal government, and it is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Note that the site offers a database of more than 1,000 grant programs administered by 26 federal grant making agencies, searchable by agency, category, eligibility, or CFDA number.

Users can also browse listings of grant opportunities by agency or category. offers an overview of the grant application process, as well as answers to frequently asked questions and other resources. Organizations and individuals must register to apply for funding through

  1. Residential (Secure) Services for Unaccompanied Alien Children

Care providers are expected to provide documentation of state or county authorization to operate a secure juvenile detention facility. Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity announcement.

Applications from individuals (including sole proprietorships) and foreign entities are not eligible and will be disqualified from competitive review and from funding under this grant source.

  1. Foundation Directory Online (FDO)

Note that this helps you learn about hundreds of federal government funders. All FDO searches—such as by subject and geographic focus—include government funders by default in their results. If you only want government funding results, you can click on “Governments and agencies (grant maker)” in the Organization Type search field.

Coupled with finding requests for proposals (RFPs) in the results, you can see what kinds of grants these funders have given, a description of their programs, funding interests, and contact information. You can also find out how to follow them on social media.

  1. Maternity Group Home Program

The purpose of this grant program is to provide safe, stable, and appropriate shelter only for pregnant and/or parenting youths ages 16 to under 22 and their dependent child(ren) for 18 months and, under extenuating circumstances, up to 21 months.

Service providers are expected to accommodate for the needs and safety of the dependent children to include facility safety standards for infants and children on the premises.

MGH services include, but are not limited to, parenting skills, child development, family budgeting, and health and nutrition education, in addition to the required services provided under the Transitional Living Program to help MGH youth realize improvements in four core outcomes areas.

  1. Transitional Living Program

The purpose of this grant program is to implement, enhance, and/or support effective strategies for a successful transition to sustainable living for runaway and homeless youth ages 16 to under 22 and/or pregnant and parenting youth ages 16 to under 22 and their dependent child(ren).

Projects are expected to provide safe, stable, and appropriate shelter for up to 18 months and, under extenuating circumstances, can be extended to 21 months and provide comprehensive services that support the transition of homeless youth to self-sufficiency and stable, independent living.

  1. Local and State Sources

You might also consider finding government grants from your local municipality, county, or state. These entities have billions of dollars available as well, and they might provide the right opportunities for your needs.

Start by contacting your local or state Department of Health, Jobs and Family Services, Human Services, Department of Development, Small Business Development, Department of Education, Department of Transportation, County Commissioners, or City Councils. Ask about grants they have available.

  1. Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI)

The Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) awards grants to housing and community development intermediary organizations to develop the capacity and ability of nonprofit organizations, low-income rural communities, and federally recognized tribes to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, and community and economic development in rural areas.

  1. Emergency Shelter Grants

The Emergency Shelter Grants Program funds renovation, major rehabilitation, or conversion of buildings for use as emergency shelters or transitional housing for homeless individuals and families. If Emergency Shelter Grant Program funds are used for moderate rehabilitation of a building, it must be used as a shelter for 3 years.

If Emergency Shelter Grants Program funds are used for major rehabilitation or conversion project of a building or a shelter, the project must be used as a shelter for 10 years.

  1. Stand Down Grants

A Stand Down is a non-competitive grant that is awarded to organizations to provide basic services to homeless veterans such as showers, haircuts, attention to health concerns, and other collaborative services to give participants a greater sense of self and an opportunity to improve their chances of securing and maintaining employment.

The maximum amount awarded per applicant, in a fiscal year (October 1 – September 30) is $7,000 for a one-day event and $10,000 for a multi-day event. An organization may apply for multiple grant awards as long as the organization is conducting SD events in different geographic areas.

  1. Street Outreach Program

The purpose of the Street Outreach Program (SOP) is to provide street-based services to runaway, homeless, and street youth who have been subjected to or are at risk of being subjected to sexual abuse, prostitution, sexual exploitation, and severe forms of human trafficking in persons.

These services, targeted in areas where street youths congregate, are designed to assist such youth in making healthy choices and providing them access to shelter as well as basic needs, including food, hygiene packages, and information on a range of available services.

  1. Continuum of Care Program

The CoC Program is designed to promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; to provide funding for efforts by nonprofit providers, states, and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals, families, persons fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking; and youth.

While minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused by homelessness; to promote access to and effective utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families, and to optimize self-sufficiency among those experiencing homelessness.

  1. Grantwatch – Grants for all businesses

Grantwatch still remains a wonderful place to start when searching for programs to suit your niche or industry. This site is a virtual warehouse of detailed information. You can find grants specifically for nonprofits that benefit non-profits and women, grants for entrepreneurs with businesses that help or hire former military, and even grants to build or rehabilitate housing for Veterans.

How to Get Government Grant and Loans for Homeless Shelters

If you’re a beginner grants professional, you need help learning to manage federal funding correctly. Federal grant money are always expected to be spent only on approved activities, must be managed to comply with regulations, and is expected to bring in measurable results.

There are several things you can do to prepare to bring in federal grant money for your homeless shelter.

  1. Understand the Process

When seeking grants as a Homeless shelter, note that the process can be lengthy and involves more than simply filling out a few forms.

In fact, before you can apply for some grants in the United States, it is advisable you determine if you are eligible, and you may need to research other funding options. Ensure you extensively understand what funders are looking for from you and have a deep understanding on what your business can offer others.

Also have it in mind that once you receive funds, you will be tasked with recording outcomes and making detailed reports on how the money was used.

  1. Determine Your Eligibility

As a homeless shelter applying for a grant, there are specific qualifications you are expected to meet. More or less, federal funds are only given to non-profits if your business will be serving the greater good in society. In other words, organizations that are nonprofits, educational institutions or engaging in activities such as scientific research or developing cutting-edge technologies have an upper hand.

  1. Complete the application

Indeed the different components of the application will vary with each grant, but you will be expected to be prepared to write a proposal for your business and every idea surrounding your concept. You will also have to clearly explain how the funding will help you put your ideas into practice.

If you have graphs, charts, or other visual metrics that will help convey the necessity of your needs and ideas, then you should prepare to include these as well. These visuals will give the committee an idea of how you plan to measure your results once you implement the grant.

  1. Submit your application

After you must have completed the form or application, check it thoroughly again before submitting it. Also make sure everything is properly formatted, sized, and contains no errors. Do not forget to keep an eye on the file size. There is a file size limit of 200MB on Individual attachments should also be less than 100MB.

Find ways to concisely convey your mission and goals so your application can take up less space. Attachment file names are also restricted to 50 characters in length and should not include the special characters &, -, *, /, #, or periods, accent marks, or blank spaces.

Video (.mpeg, .mov, .avi), graphic image (.gif, .jpg, .tif) and audio (.aif, .au, .wav) files should be compressed before being attached, according to the standards of the grant agency administering the grant you’re applying for. Always remember that your application must be error free before you can successfully submit it.

Click the “Check Package for Errors” button on the application to make sure your application is correct. Also note that your grant will be quickly dismissed if it includes any errors such as typos, grammatical errors, or other technical problems.

Show the committee you pay attention to detail and thoroughly edit your application. The final step in the application process entails hitting the Save & Submit button. This will become available once all of the errors are corrected.


Government funding programs and priorities change frequently. It is a good idea to call or email the appropriate agency contact person for the most up-to-date information on funding guidelines and application information.

Also, take your time to adequately prepare for your prospecting work.  The more time you put into preparation, the better your results.

You are expected to understand how, why, and where your organization provides services to prepare properly. Then keep working at it. Effective grant prospecting takes planning, preparation, and time, but you’ll find government funding for your innovative programs.