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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release December 22, 1997

                    Gore, Cuomo Also Launch Drive to 
               Collect 500,000 Books for Homeless Children

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Al Gore today announced $865 million in grant assistance to help homeless Americans find housing and become self-sufficient. The Vice President, joined by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, also announced that more than 200,000 books have been collected as part of a new drive to distribute half a million donated books to homeless children.

"During this holiday season, all of us must recommit ourselves to helping homeless Americans achieve what most of us take for granted -- a safe place to live and the opportunity to become responsible, self-sufficient citizens," the Vice President said. "These new resources will go a long way toward helping homeless citizens move off the sidewalks and into jobs -- to find homes and hope."

The $865 million in HUD assistance will go to 320 communities, all 50 state governments, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Seven hundred million dollars of the HUD assistance announced today is in the form of Continuum of Care competitive grants to governments and non-profit groups to provide long-term solutions to homelessness. In all, 1,396 homeless assistance projects will get these grants and at least 330,000 homeless people will be assisted.

The other $165 million in assistance announced today is funding for the Emergency Shelter Grants program, which is distributed through a formula based on a community's housing and poverty needs. States and cities select local projects to receive funding.

"These grants are a matter of life and death for homeless people," said HUD Secretary Cuomo. "Without this assistance, more men, women and children would die. More would remain homeless, trapped in a nightmare world where no American should live. Because of these grants, some of the most vulnerable Americans are getting a second chance to reach for the American Dream."

The book drive announced today has already collected 205,000 books -- 100,000 from the Walt Disney Company, 60,000 from Simon & Schuster, Inc., and 45,000 from Time Warner, Inc. This total amounts to more than one book for each of the 165,000 estimated homeless children in the nation. Other publishers are expected to make donations. This book drive is part of HUD's Take Ten Homeless Campaign. The unprecedented national initiative is designed to recruit more Americans to help homeless people become self-sufficient.

The Vice President and Secretary Cuomo urged Americans to join the book drive by donating books to local homeless shelters in their communities. People who need help identifying a local shelter can call HUD's Homeless Information Line (1-800-HUD-1010) toll-free, from 8 AM to 8 PM (ET) weekdays.

For further information on HUD Homeless Assistance Grants, contact HUD Public Affairs at (202) 708-0980.