COUNCIL MEMBERS ENGAGE WITH MAYORS AND GOVERNORS AT FIRST COUNCIL MEETING OF 2011
March 30, 2011
On March 30, Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis chaired the Obama Administration's first Council meeting of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness in 2011. The Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan hosted his Department's first ever Council meeting. The well attended meeting focused on a discussion with bi-partisan state and local leaders on the importance of collaboration among all levels of government if the United States is to meet the ambitious goals set forth in Opening Doors, the nation's first ever comprehensive plan to prevent and end homelessness. Secretary Solis was joined by two of her colleagues, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue.
The Cabinet Secretaries along with representatives from 14 other federal agencies had an active dialogue with Mayor Ashley Swearengin of Fresno, CA and Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, OH, who shared their successes, stressing the value of public and private partnerships. They also discussed the issues their communities face in preventing and ending homelessness, while noting the important steps the Federal government can take in supporting their efforts on the ground.
The second half of the meeting focused on engaging a bi-partisan panel of governors and lieutenant governors on ways to improve federal programs and accessing mainstream benefits for people experiencing homelessness. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Utah Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell, and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom highlighted the critical nature of leadership at all levels of government, including State Interagency Councils modeled on the active leadership at the federal Council. The panel also discussed taking local best practices to scale across their states, the overall cost effectiveness of supportive housing and Housing First strategies, and the importance of funding to make Opening Doors a reality.
There was agreement that states and cities should align their plans to the federal plan, and that mayors and governors are critical champions for achieving the goal of preventing and ending homelessness. The Council reiterated its commitment to an ongoing dialogue on what the Federal government can do to support states and cities in their work.
Also in attendance were Council Labor Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Administration Jane Oates, and VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Tammy Duckworth.