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Federal Program Overviews

There are a number of different federal health and human service programs providing a range of benefits to individuals across the U.S.

Federal programs help to provide medical assistance and access to mental health and substance abuse services. Federal programs also support states in providing cash assistance, energy assistance, and workforce development and help provide access to nutritional assistance or food supplements. Federal funding supports the development of affordable housing, and also provides housing supports and rental assistance for millions of families.

In all, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has estimated that there are over 80 federal programs that provide aid to people with low incomes. While each of these programs serve a vital need, they often do not provide for much programmatic flexibility, are administratively burdensome to administer and report on, and are often not aligned with respect to eligibility or desired outcomes.

In the following sections, we describe many of the federally mandated reporting requirements and variations in eligibility between programs.

List of Selected Federal Health and Human Service Programs

SectorProgramMandatory/ DiscretionarySpending – FY18*, in millionsPresident’s FY19 Budget**, in millions# of RecipientsFederal Agency
HealthMedicaidMandatory$400,388$412,03368.05MHHS
Mental Health/Substance AbuseComm. Mental Health Services Block GrantDiscretionary$559$563HHS
Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block GrantDiscretionary$1,845$1,8582MHHS
Cash AssistanceTANFMandatory$16,737$15,1372.5MHHS
Social Services and Community DevelopmentSocial Services Block GrantMandatory$1,588$026.7MHHS
Comm. Development Block GrantDiscretionary$3,060$0HUD
Community Services Block GrantDiscretionary$710$015.6M HHS
Food AssistanceSNAPMandatory$73,613$73,21842.2MUSDA
WICDiscretionary$6,313$5,7507.3MUSDA
Energy AssistanceLIHEAPDiscretionary$3,367$06.0M householdsHHS
HousingHousing Choice VouchersDiscretionary$20,292$19,3182.2M householdsHUD
Section 8 Project-Based Rental AssistanceDiscretionary$10,743$11,1471.2M householdsHUD
Public Housing: Capital and Operating FundsDiscretionaryCapital: $1,928
Operating: $4,370
Capital: $0
Operating: $3,279
2.1MHUD
Section 521 Rural Rental AssistanceDiscretionary$1,395$1,351300kUSDA
Continuum of CareDiscretionary$2,004$2,121550kHUD
Section 811Discretionary$185$188Housing unitsHUD
Section 202Discretionary$605$657Housing unitsHUD
HOME Investment PartnershipsDiscretionary$938$0Housing unitsHUD
Workforce DevelopmentAdultDiscretionary$815$4906.1MDOL
Dislocated WorkerDiscretionary$1,241$666530kDOL
YouthDiscretionary$867$524157kDOL
Adult Education and Literacy Act ProgramsDiscretionary$578$486Educ.
Vocational Rehabilitation ProgramsMandatory$3,399$3,453Educ.

*FY18 numbers reflect FY17 enacted levels.

*Amounts Reflect Proposed Law Budget Authority.