This week, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Executive Director Jeff Olivet traveled to Chicago to meet with state and local officials, service providers, and people experiencing homelessness to discuss the unique challenges and innovative solutions and how the federal government can support the community’s response to the homelessness crisis.
“Homelessness is not colorblind. People of color are far more likely to experience homelessness, and this inequity is all too clear in Chicago, where Black people make up 73% of the homeless population but only 29% of the city’s total population,” said USICH Director Olivet. “But while every community of people has different challenges and solutions, one thing is universally true: The foundation for a better, safer, and healthier life is housing. Without a home, every other aspect of a person’s life suffers.”
While in Illinois, USICH Director Olivet and USICH Director of National Initiatives Beverley Ebersold, toured encampments and a “low-barrier” shelter. They also participated in meetings with Lived Advisory Commission members and with the Continuum of Care (CoC) organizations that coordinate the local response to homelessness.
At the local level, USICH met with Chicago’s deputy mayor of education and human services and city leaders of several departments: housing, public health, and family and support services. The federal and local leaders discussed strategies to address unsheltered homelessness.
At the state level, the federal pair met with Illinois Deputy Governor Sol Flores, Illinois Homeless Chief Christine Haley, Illinois Housing Development Authority Executive Director Kristin Faust, Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services Director Theresa Eagleson, and Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou. The group of state and federal leaders focused on homelessness prevention.
Director Olivet presented at an event hosted by All Chicago, the lead agency for the local CoC dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness.
USICH expects to release the new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness soon. It is based on what USICH hears from communities and on the public input USICH received from thousands of people who represent organizations in more than 600 communities (including Chicago) and more than 500 people who have experienced homelessness.