CoC Program Special NOFO Digest: Serving People Experiencing Homelessness in Rural Areas

July 29, 2022

On June 22, 2022, the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Supplemental Funding Opportunity to Address Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness (Special Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)) was announced. This is a first-of-its-kind opportunity to address unsheltered homelessness and homeless encampments including funds set aside to address homelessness in rural communities.

Applications for the Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness NOFO must be submitted no later than October 20, 2022, at 8:00 PM EDT.

To support communities in developing their plans to address rural and unsheltered homelessness; existing Technical Assistance (TA) and other resources through a series of listserv messages.

View all CoC Program Special NOFO Digests

Homelessness in Rural Areas

One in five people experiencing unsheltered homelessness were identified in rural areas in the 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) Part 1 - Point-in-Time Count (PIT). Rural CoCs had the largest percentage of people experiencing homelessness in unsheltered locations, 44 percent, followed by major city CoCs, 39 percent.

Rural communities face challenges unique from urban and suburban communities. For example, rural areas have a disproportionate number of substandard housing relative to urban areas. This impacts the ability for agencies to use existing housing due to their substandard conditions.

In addition to housing challenges, rural communities have other barriers, such as:

  • Rural areas have few if any public transportation options – making it difficult to find housing located in an area where it can be relatively easy to travel to supportive services, employment, or other opportunities that will help people achieve housing stability
  • Communities in rural areas struggle to compete to hire staff for critical services – especially when urban areas can offer higher wages and more options

Despite these challenges, rural communities continue to innovate to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. Rural communities leverage partnerships and find ways to creatively use the limited housing stock available to them. For instance, when the capacity of street outreach providers is limited (either because dollars are limited or staffing levels are too low to cover such a large geographic area routinely), rural communities enlist the help of librarians, gas station owners, state and federal park rangers, and recreational clubs like snowmobile clubs to identify people experiencing homelessness and help them access critical services to move them from the streets or their vehicles to housing. Additionally, rather than building emergency shelters, rural communities leverage hotels and churches to address emergency shelter needs.

This Special NOFO includes a Rural Set Aside and gives rural communities an opportunity to continue their creative efforts. Projects that propose to serve rural areas through the Rural Set Aside may request the following additional eligible costs as part of their application (in addition to the costs allowed under the CoC Program):

  1. Rent or utility assistance after two months of nonpayment of rent or utilities to prevent eviction or loss of utility service. Funds may be used to pay rent or utility arrear payments up to six months on behalf of program participants residing in permanent housing.
  2. Short-term emergency lodging in motels or shelters, either directly or through vouchers.
  3. Repairs, (such as insulation, window repair, door repair, and roof repair) that are necessary to make housing habitable to be used for transitional or permanent housing by people experiencing homelessness. The total cost of repairs may not exceed $10,000 per structure.
  4. Capacity building activities that maintain or improve the skills of recipients. Applicants may apply for up to 20 percent of funds requested as part of the project, including project administrative costs, for capacity building activities. Eligible capacity building activities include:
    • Employee education
    • Job training
    • Staff retention activities such as financial incentives to staff, paying for continuing education opportunities, cross-training within an organization, staff training and professional licensing or certification, and other professional development activities
  5. Emergency food and clothing assistance. The cost of providing meals or groceries and clothing to program participants are eligible costs.
  6. Costs associated with making use of Federal Inventory property programs to house homeless individuals and families.

These added costs give rural communities more flexibility to adapt their services to meet the unique needs of people experiencing homelessness, particularly those currently experiencing or with histories of unsheltered homelessness, in their rural communities.


The following resources provide further guidance for serving people experiencing homelessness in rural areas.

For additional resources, visit the CoC Program Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness NOFO page on the HUD Exchange.


For questions about the Special NOFO, please email