The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program, formerly the Emergency Shelter Grants Program, is designed to be the first step in a continuum of assistance to prevent homelessness and to enable homeless individuals and families to move toward independent living. The Emergency Shelter Grants program was originally established by the Homeless Housing Act of 1986, in response to the growing issue of homelessness in the United States. In 1987, the ESG program was incorporated into the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. ESG is a formula-funded program that uses the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) formula as the basis for allocating funds to eligible jurisdictions, including States, territories, and qualified metropolitan cities and urban counties for: rehabilitation or conversion of buildings into homeless shelters; operating expenses; essential services; and homeless prevention activities.
The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 (HEARTH Act) amended the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, revising the Emergency Shelter Grants Program in significant ways and renaming it the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program.