The purpose of the little-known Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 is stated as "... States, units of local government, and private voluntary organizations have been unable to meet the basic human needs of all the homeless and, in the absence of greater Federal Assistance, will be unable to protect the lives and safety of all the homeless in need of assistance: and the Federal Government has a clear responsibility and an existing capacity to fulfill a more effective and responsible role to meet the basic human needs and to engender respect for the human dignity of the homeless (U.S. Congress, 1987)"

Recent developments and policies could imply an increased use of surplus and underutilized federal facilities for programs for the homeless.

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