Prevent Homelessness

This is an excerpt of All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. Read the full plan at usich.gov/fsp.

All In serves as a roadmap for federal action to ensure state and local communities have sufficient resources and guidance to build the effective, lasting systems required to end homelessness. While it is a federal plan, local communities can use it to collaboratively develop local and systems-level plans for preventing and ending homelessness. This plan creates an initial framework for meeting the ambitious goal of reducing overall homelessness by 25% by 2025 and sets the United States on a path to end homelessness.

This plan is built around six pillars: three foundations—equity, evidence, and collaboration—and three solutions—housing and supports, homelessness response, and prevention—all of which are required to prevent and end homelessness. Within each pillar of foundations and solutions are strategies that the federal government will pursue to facilitate increased access to housing, economic security, health, and stability. Some agency commitments, cross-government initiatives, and efforts are already underway and are highlighted throughout.

Upon release of this plan, USICH will immediately begin to develop implementation plans that will identify specific actions, milestones, and metrics for operationalizing the strategies in close partnership with its member agencies and other stakeholders representing a broad range of groups and perspectives, including people with lived experience. For more on this, please view the Framework for Implementation.

Strategies to Prevent Homelessness

The overall number of people experiencing homelessness will only go down if more people exit homelessness than enter it. Ending homelessness requires working on both fronts—rehousing people who are already homeless while preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place. This pillar focuses on upstream, universal prevention approaches that will require an all-hands-on-deck effort across government to broadly reduce the risk of housing instability for households most likely to experience homelessness. Strategies such as increasing availability of and access to affordable and accessible housing and housing assistance and addressing housing discrimination that perpetuate disparities are both critical to preventing homelessness and are addressed in the Scale Up Housing and Supports pillar. The following strategies and actions are informed by the White House Homelessness Prevention Working Group that convened from October 2021 through January 2022. It is important to note that while this pillar does include strategies for some specific subpopulations and groups, it is understood that there is intersectionality between each of these groups and all strategies must be considered together.

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Strategy 1: Reduce housing instability for households most at risk of experiencing homelessness by increasing availability of and access to meaningful and sustainable employment, education, and other mainstream services, opportunities, and resources.

It is necessary to strengthen partnerships between, and connections to, a larger array of federal, state, local, and private programs that serve low-income households, including programs that address poverty; advance education and employment opportunities and support upward economic mobility; provide connections to health, including mental health services; and link people to a range of other programs and systems that support strong and thriving communities, such as quality early care and education, schools, home and community-based services, and family and caregiver support.

To accomplish this strategy, USICH and relevant member agencies will:

  • Increase on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities and supported employment for low-income households most at risk of becoming homeless to ensure access to jobs that pay a living wage.
  • Review federal program policies, procedures, regulations, and administrative barriers to improve access to employment opportunities and income support for households experiencing housing instability—particularly for historically marginalized groups, including Black; trans; and non-binary people.
  • Encourage state and local governments, and territories to implement a flexible array of supports that impact housing stability, including quality case management and care coordination, peer supports and navigation services, intensive in-home services, mobile crisis and stabilization services, transportation services, and other home- and community-based services.
  • Support communities to increase access to and retention within high-quality education programs, including quality childcare and early childhood education through elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education.
  • Share examples and best practices on strategies and resources that promote the long-term stability of people who have entered permanent housing, including employment supports, energy burden assistance, case management and peer support, emergency financial assistance, transportation, legal services, early care and education, connection to programs, and other necessary services and supports.
  • Strengthen coordination between early childhood, education, housing, health care and public health, aging and disability network organizations, employment and vocational rehabilitation, and homeless services providers as part of a whole-family approach to improve both child and family outcomes through meaningful connections to community-based programs and resources that target and prioritize the assessed needs of the entire household, including infants and young children, for sustained housing stability and economic mobility.
  • Promote equitable strategies and expand programs that are focused on preventing evictions, including legal services; protection and advocacy services; independent living services; elder rights; and housing counseling services.
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Strategy 2: Reduce housing instability for families, youth, and single adults with former involvement with or who are directly exiting from publicly funded institutional systems.

Many people experiencing homelessness have prior involvement with or are exiting directly from publicly funded institutional systems, including child welfare and foster care, juvenile and adult corrections, long-term care, health, and mental health and substance use treatment facilities. Ending homelessness will require a whole-of-government approach to close gaps and provide greater support to increase the likelihood of housing stability and decrease the likelihood of a subsequent occurrence of homelessness. Because people of color are often overrepresented in the criminal justice system and child welfare system, failure to address the pipeline from these publicly funded institutions into homelessness will further racial disparities among those experiencing homelessness. Reducing housing instability for people exiting publicly funded institutional systems will also reduce disparities among homeless populations.

To accomplish this strategy, USICH and relevant member agencies will:

  • Strengthen cross-system partnerships and expand upon existing initiatives and programs that target or primarily serve youth, individuals and families who have current or prior involvement with a publicly funded institutional system.
  • Pursue Executive actions, legislative amendments, and policy changes around eligibility and other definitions that limit access to programs for youth, individuals and families who have prior involvement with a publicly funded institutional system.
  • Increase intergovernmental collaboration on existing programs that serve youth, individuals and families who have prior involvement with a publicly funded institutional system including older adults and adults with disabilities who have been in contact with protective services.
  • Provide guidance and technical assistance to local systems of care for better integration of housing stability screening to allow for earlier intervention and support.
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Strategy 3: Reduce housing instability among older adults and people with disabilities—including people with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders—by increasing access to home- and community-based services and housing that is affordable, accessible, and integrated.

Poor housing conditions are shown to worsen health conditions—especially for older adults and people with disabilities—which in turn can lead to homelessness. Older adults and people with disabilities face dual health and housing crises and need more access to community-based health care and support services, such as mental health care, outpatient treatment for substance use disorders, transportation, assistive technology, and personal care assistance. This is particularly true for people of color, especially Black people, and other marginalized populations.

To accomplish this strategy, USICH and relevant member agencies will:

  • Provide guidance and technical assistance to states and local governments on service improvement and the provision of housing-related supports for older adults and people with disabilities—especially those in rural communities, people transitioning out of institutions and into integrated community-based housing, and people at risk of institutionalization.
  • Explore feasibility of expanding the scope of programs that provide housing-related supports to allow for greater flexibility in terms of allowable costs and eligibility to ensure people at risk of homelessness are covered. This could include expanding use of funds to cover home repairs, modifications, renovations, and costs to address disability-related needs, such as innovative accessibility features, to reduce likelihood of housing insecurity and potential health impacts.
  • Expand housing options for people with disabilities and older adults by providing guidance, technical assistance and expanding and enforcing requirements related to accessibility of housing.
  • Expand cross-agency collaboration on the development of guidance, tools, and technical assistance opportunities to strengthen partnerships across disability, aging, health, and housing sectors to prevent homelessness and increase access to culturally appropriate affordable housing and highquality, accessible housing and community-based supports.
  • Strengthen coordination between CoCs, Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Aging and Disability Resource Centers/No Wrong Door Systems, housing, Social Security, healthcare, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers, and homeless service providers to improve housing stability for older adults and people with disabilities who are experiencing homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • Promote the use of flexible funding to cover first or last deposit for renters with reliable sources of income such as Supplemental Security Income which provides for little to no discretionary spending.
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Strategy 4: Reduce housing instability for veterans and service members transitioning from military to civilian life.

Veterans are more likely than civilians to experience homelessness, especially if they have mental health conditions and/or have substance use disorders or disabilities that impact successful reintegration, particularly into the civilian workforce. Veterans are also at higher risk of experiencing traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are some of the most significant risk factors for homelessness.

To accomplish this strategy, USICH and relevant member agencies will:

  • Increase and improve coordination between DoD, VA and other partner agencies to identify opportunities to strengthen appropriate housing connections with follow-up services for transitioning service members (TSMs).
  • Provide information and outreach to military communities and legal service providers about federal foreclosure and eviction protections for service members and veterans.
  • Broaden community outreach and marketing of VA’s resources to promote health, volunteerism and national service, wellness, education, employment, economic mobility, and legal assistance.
  • Strengthen and build partnerships across federal, state, and private entities to expand housing stock availability as identified in the VA Homeless Programs Office Strategic Plan for 2021-2025.
  • Promote the use of tools and provide guidance on how to screen for housing instability for TSMs sooner to refer to appropriate supports to avert a housing crisis that could lead to homelessness.
  • Support expansion of VA partnerships with community-based legal providers (including those following the medical-legal partnership model) that help veterans with civil legal problems.

Strategy 5: Reduce housing instability for American Indian and Alaska Native communities living on and off tribal lands.

Tribal communities experience severe housing shortages, geographic isolation, and limited job opportunities near family and community support networks. It is imperative to support tribal governments in identifying barriers to housing instability in their communities and designing and implementing culturally responsive solutions.

To accomplish this strategy, USICH and relevant member agencies will:

  • Consult with tribes, in accordance with Executive Order 13175 and the Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships, and will build off the tribal consultation that took place to inform the development strategies and recommendations to increase housing stability for American Indians and Alaska Natives, including policy recommendations related to programs funded under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA).
  • Reengage the USICH Interagency Working Group on American Indian and Alaska Native Homelessness and work to implement the strategies set forth in the action plan for interagency coordination and collaboration for setting a path for ending homelessness among American Indian and Alaska Native communities living on and off tribal lands.

Strategy 6: Reduce housing instability among youth and young adults.

A nationwide study released by Chapin Hall in 2017 found that 700,000 youth (ages 13-17) and 3.5 million young adults (ages 18-25) had experienced some form of homelessness—including couch-surfing and doubling up—over a 12-month period. Addressing housing instability among youth and young adults, especially those who are LGBTQI+, requires a holistic and developmentally appropriate approach that explores the unique intersections that affect young people.

To accomplish this strategy, USICH and relevant member agencies will:

  • Explore feasibility of expanding existing programs that target youth or young adults, including programs for foster youth with and without disabilities aging out of foster care, and pregnant and parenting youth, to focus on activities that will increase protective factors that will reduce the likelihood of experiencing housing instability and subsequent occurrence of homelessness.
  • Provide targeted technical assistance to communities to strengthen partnerships and collaboration for the prevention of youth homelessness with entities including schools and local educational agencies, child welfare, and other local systems of care that have regular and direct contact with this population to promote more collaborative relationships, seek to strengthen familial ties and support networks for youth, and allow for earlier identification of young people at increased risk of experiencing a housing crisis.
  • Support the creation of pilot programs that are focused on the use of housing problem-solving and the provision of direct cash assistance as a means of preventing youth and young adult homelessness.
  • Promote the creation of local youth advisory councils comprised of young people, including those who are at risk, to partner and lead the design and implementation of programs that focus on youth homelessness prevention. 

Strategy 7: Reduce housing instability among survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence, including family violence and intimate partner violence.

Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness, especially among families, in the United States. Survivors of sexual assault also face unique challenges to obtaining and maintaining stable housing. Additionally, survivors of human trafficking are often part of marginalized populations and left financially insecure, which, in turn, makes them susceptible to re-exploitation. In addition, people experiencing homelessness—especially youth and young adults—are at increased risk of being trafficked. Conversely, experiencing human trafficking places youth and others at a greater risk for becoming homeless.

To accomplish this strategy, USICH and its member agencies will seek to align with and build off of the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality and the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and will:

  • Expand federal collaboration and partnerships with federally funded technical assistance groups on opportunities to reduce housing barriers for survivors of human trafficking; sexual assault; and domestic violence (including family and intimate partner violence) and explore additional strategies to prevent homelessness among survivors, such as strategies to prevent evictions resulting from crime-free programs and nuisance property laws.
  • Support the creation of pilot programs that promote supportive housing and services models for survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence.
  • Explore feasibility of expanding existing programs that focus on helping survivors access and maintain long-term, safe, stable, and affordable housing to reduce housing instability and avoid occurrences of homelessness.
  • As recommended by the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking 2021 report, increase capacity of providers serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to also serve human trafficking survivors.
  • Develop tools and provide collaborative technical assistance on topics such as increasing affordable housing stock, engaging landlords, and family interventions specific to this population through policy academies, learning collaboratives, and expert panels.
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This is an excerpt of All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. Read the full plan at usich.gov/fsp.