BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care grants have awarded more than $73.5 million to support 275 homeless housing and service programs in Massachusetts.The funding is part of $2 billion being awarded to more than 7,300 local housing and service programs nationwide. According to a HUD report, homelessness declined in Massachusetts in 2017 compared to 2016. HUD estimates there were 17,565 persons experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts on a single night in 2017, a decrease of 10.4 percent since the prior year. In addition, homelessness among families with children declined 14.2 percent across the state since 2016. Local Massachusetts communities also report the number of persons experiencing long-term chronic homelessness decreased. In December, HUD reported homelessness increased in the U.S.as a whole, especially among individuals experiencing long-term chronic homelessness. HUD’s 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found that 553,742 persons experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017, an increase of .7 percent since last year. Homelessness among families with children declined 5.4 percent nationwide since 2016, local communities report the number of persons experiencing long-term chronic homelessness and Veterans increased.