The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development yesterday awarded Philadelphia groups that help homeless individuals and families $24.5 million for ongoing projects - an increase of $3 million from 2008.

The funding for existing programs is part of a $1.4 billion national package for homeless services, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said during a telephone news conference. About half the money will go to projects for chronically homeless individuals and the rest to homeless families.

HUD will award additional grants for new projects at the start of the year, but that sum will be much less than the amount announced yesterday, Donovan said.

Elsewhere in the region, HUD announced, it is providing $3.6 million to homeless programs in Delaware County, $2.1 million in Montgomery County, $1.4 million in Chester County, and $602,000 in Bucks County.

In New Jersey, the department is providing $1.7 million to programs in Camden County, $572,000 in Burlington County, $291,000 in Gloucester County, and $143,000 in Salem County.

In communities across the country, "we've made remarkable progress in our efforts around chronic homelessness, which has been reduced by about a third," Donovan said.

But because of the economy, layoffs, and home foreclosures, he said, homelessness among families has risen about 9 percent this year, with even sharper increases in suburban and rural communities.

HUD estimates that across the country, the count of suburban and rural homeless has jumped 56 percent in the last year.