The mission of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) is to coordinate the federal response to homelessness and to create a national partnership at every level of government and with the private sector to reduce and end homelessness in the nation while maximizing the effectiveness of the Federal Government in contributing to the end of homelessness.
Interagency Leadership and Collaboration
USICH is an independent agency within the federal executive branch. The agency consists of 19 federal Cabinet secretaries and agency heads. The current chairperson is Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki; Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan serves as the vice chairperson. The Executive Director of USICH is Barbara Poppe. USICH partners with these 19 federal agencies, state and local governments, advocates, service providers, and people experiencing homelessness to achieve the goals outlined in the first federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, Opening Doors.
USICH works with its partners to
- Establish and maintain effective, coordinated, and supportive relationships with every federal agency;
- Organize and support states and communities to effectively implement local plans to end homelessness;
- Develop an effective portal to federal programs and initiatives;
- Establish and maintain productive communications with Congress;
- Establish partnerships with public and private sector stakeholders;
- Monitor, evaluate, and recommend improvements in serving those experiencing homelessness and disseminate best practices;
- Provide professional and technical assistance to states, local governments, and other public and private nonprofit organizations.
The Interagency Council on the Homeless was authorized by Title II of the landmark Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act enacted on July 22, 1987 (PL 100-77). The McKinney Act established the Interagency Council on the Homeless as an “independent establishment” within the executive branch to review the effectiveness of federal activities and programs to assist people experiencing homelessness, promote better coordination among agency programs, and inform state and local governments and public and private sector organizations about the availability of federal homeless assistance. In 2002, Council members voted to approve changing the name of the agency to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), a change that was enacted into law in 2004 (PL 108-199).
The most recent reauthorization of USICH occurred in 2009 with enactment of the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act. (PL111-22).
The Council originally included the heads (or their representatives) of 16 Federal agencies. Five additional agencies were subsequently added by Council vote or statutory amendments, while two agencies are now inactive. The current members of the Council include the heads of the following 19 Departments and agencies: U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs, Corporation for National and Community Service, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Social Security Administration, United States Postal Service, and the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
The Council annually elects a Chairperson and a Vice Chairperson from among its members.The Council also appoints an Executive Director. Barbara Poppe is the agency’s eighth executive director.