Presented to the Office of the President and Congress on June 22, 2010, Opening Doors is the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. Opening Doors serves as a roadmap for joint action by the 19 USICH member agencies along with local and state partners in the public and private sectors. In September 2012, USICH released an Amendment to Opening Doors, which was developed to specifically address what strategies and supports should be implemented to improve the educational outcomes for children and youth, and the steps that need to be taken to assist unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness.
The plan puts us on a path to end Veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, families, and youth by 2020. The Plan presents strategies building upon the lesson that mainstream housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness, including
- Increasing leadership, collaboration, and civic engagement, with a focus on providing and promoting collaborative leadership at all levels of government and across all sectors, and strengthening the capacity of public and private organizations by increasing knowledge about collaboration and successful interventions to prevent and end homelessness.
- Increasing access to stable and affordable housing, by providing affordable housing and permanent supportive housing.
- Increasing economic security, by expanding opportunities for meaningful and sustainable employment and improving access to mainstream programs and services to reduce financial vulnerability to homelessness.
- Improving health and stability, by linking health care with homeless assistance programs and housing, advancing stability for youth aging out of systems such as foster care and juvenile justice, and improving discharge planning for people who have frequent contact with hospitals and criminal justice systems.
- Retooling the homeless response system, by transforming homeless services to crisis response systems that prevent homelessness and rapidly return people who experience homelessness to stable housing.
The HEARTH Act, enacted by Congress in May 2009, mandated that the USICH produce a "national strategic plan" to end homelessness to Congress and the President. Beginning in January 2010, USICH held regional stakeholder meetings, organized federal working groups focused on specific populations, solicited public comment through an interactive website, and engaged experts from across the country to develop an action plan to solve homelessness for veterans, adults, families, youth, and children. The result of that mandate and engagement of all stakeholders is Opening Doors.