04/22/2016 - Council Discusses Strategies to Increase Momentum on Ending Chronic Homelessness, Drive Action on Youth Homelessness
On April 12, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness convened for the first Council meeting of 2016.
We know what it will take to end homelessness in our country. We've outlined our top priorities for 2016 to get us closer than ever before.
01/22/2016 - New Demonstration for Youth Provides Up to Five Years of Housing and Self-Sufficiency Resources
HUD and HHS recently announced a new opportunity for child welfare directors and local public housing agencies to work together to provide young people with housing and service supports for up to five years, extending the length of time from the typical 18 month period.
01/19/2016 - From Homelessness to Self-Sufficiency: Long-Term Housing Gives Young Person “Room to Breathe”
Cortney Jones shares her experiences as a foster care alumni who found her way out of homelessness through a Family Self-Sufficiency - Housing Authority partnership program.
The officers of the Portland Police Bureau’s Foot Patrol came together with a common desire to try something new; they decided to throw out the rule book and focus on relationship building with youth living on the streets.
Portland's Homeless Youth Continuum partners with the Portland Police Bureau to break down barriers and build trust between police and youth experiencing homelessness.
Data can help drive progress - if we use it well and wisely. That's true for communities and it is true for the multiple interagency working groups USICH convenes to make Federal policy decisions to help end homelessness across America.
Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices our service members have made for us, and what we owe them for that sacrifice. I think I speak for all Americans when I say that one thing we certainly owe them is the opportunity of a place to call home. The Commonwealth of Virginia, and all the other communities that have achieved this amazing milestone, have honored that commitment to Veterans and serve as profound examples to the rest of the country that we can, in fact, end homelessness.
Last month, the True Colors Fund Forty to None Summit convened in Houston, Texas. Policy Director Jasmine Hayes shares the highlights and discusses our vision for a coordinated, comprehensive response to ending youth homelessness.
During the July 2015 Council meeting, we had an opportunity to hear from Jon Bradley from Preble Street in Portland, Maine, and Mary Li from Multnomah County Department of County Human Services in Oregon regarding their local efforts to implement a more coordinated and comprehensive response to youth homelessness. Jon and Mary shared their successes, their lessons learned, and the challenges that they continue to tackle.
07/27/2015 - Discussions Spotlight Issues of Youth and Native American Homelessness at our July Council Meeting
Our July Council meeting spotlighted issues of youth and Native American homelessness.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), along with its 19 member agencies, announced today the release of an amendment to Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
On behalf of the entire team at USICH, the teams at our Federal member agencies, and our many dedicated state and local partners working tirelessly to prevent and end homelessness, I am thrilled to share with you this updated version of Opening Doors, as amended in 2015.
On Wednesday, April 29, I had the honor of representing our We Count, California! team at two historic events in Washington, DC—a Senate hearing and a White House briefing—both focused on the Administration’s goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020. Across the board, I heard a clear message that youth counts matter.
No young person should lack a stable and safe home, or be without a caring adult they can count on. Too many of America’s youth have been robbed of that essential foundation — and thanks to the extraordinary work of practitioners and volunteers across the country, we are learning what it takes to reestablish that footing and end youth homelessness nationwide.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Community Planning and Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Veteran Health Administration have recently announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets forth shared understanding of each agency’s respective roles and responsibilities regarding the use of Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).
It is truly an honor to have this opportunity to serve as Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and to help carry forward the great work of this agency and of my predecessors. It is also a distinct privilege to work with the fantastic team of staff we have at USICH, both the team working here in DC and our Regional Coordinators working out in the field.
If you have wondered why the goal to end youth homelessness is set for 2022 while our goals to end Veteran and chronic homelessness are set for 2015 and 2016 respectively, you’re in good company. Youth homelessness is an urgent problem with lots of costly outcomes. Addressing this is also a preventative measure to stem the tide of chronic homelessness.
I was happy to welcome U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to Tucson earlier this year for our annual Point In Time Count, also known as the Street Count.
In cities across the country there was great energy and collaboration around strengthening the count of youth experiencing homelessness as part of the 2015 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Point-in-Time (PIT) count. From Miami to Seattle, providers created new partnerships and shared innovative methods to get to a better count. This was driven by a deep desire to generate more accurate demographic data of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and ultimately to target resources towards interventions that are the most effective for the population.
In each of our cities and towns, every night, there are young people who face the unimaginable risk of exploitation, of abuse, of countless traumas that threaten not only their immediate health and well-being but that can inflict long-term damage.
In September 2014, William H. Bentley, Associate Commissioner of the Family & Youth Services Bureau and former USICH Executive Director Laura Zeilinger, highlighted the impact of Runaway and Homeless Youth Act-funded programs for youth experiencing homelessness.
This week, President Obama put forward a 2016 Budget that again demonstrates his Administration’s deep commitment to ending homelessness.
As I come to the end of my first week as Interim Executive Director of USICH, I am acutely aware that there are only 11 months to reach our goal to end Veteran homelessness in 2015.
It’s January again, and that means many of you are gearing up for your community’s annual Point in Time (PIT) Count. PIT counts are conducted by most Continuums of Care (COCs) during the last ten days in January.
I was eight or nine when the idea of working with people experiencing homelessness first crossed my mind. It had been a long day and some relatives and I were walking to dinner. The city was crowded and as we passed under a building’s scaffolding, through the fast-walking legs of adults, I saw a man crouched by the edge of the sidewalk. What struck me was that everyone ignored him. It seemed to me that I was the only one who could see him. Once we reached the restaurant I broke into tears. When I got home I explained what happened to my mom. “Maybe you can work with the homeless when you’re older” she said.
As the year draws to a close, I am struck by how far we have come in our effort to end homelessness. 2014 has indeed been a historic year.
All across the country, communities are developing coordinated entry systems to streamline and facilitate access to appropriate housing and services for families and individuals experiencing homelessness. In the Greater Richmond area of Virginia and in Los Angeles County, California—like in other places—efforts to bring these systems online are in full swing.
Around the country, more communities are working in partnership with the Federal government to develop housing crisis response systems that effectively prevent and end homelessness.
Many readers have likely heard about the great progress being made toward ending homelessness in Salt Lake and Utah. Earlier this fall, I had the privilege of joining more than 475 people for the 11th Annual Utah Homeless Summit organized by Utah Department of Workforce Services’ Housing and Community Development Division.
I think things are beginning to change in this country, both in small, grass roots movements and on a national front sweeping through the country. It’s easier now than ever for people to tell their stories, and I sense that people are beginning to want to hear voices of those less heard, voices like mine. My story may not make headlines but I realize now it is important none-the-less.
The 2015 PIT count is an opportunity not only to better count youth, but also to obtain an improved and more nuanced picture nationally and locally of youth homelessness. As we work with our communities in California to prepare for the best count of homeless youth to date, we offer these suggestions to communities getting ready for the count nationwide.
Just ahead of reporting remarkable advancements in ending homelessness across America, Obama Administration officials who make up the Council met on October 15, 2014, to measure the progress in the work of USICH and its partners, to discuss the data, and to chart the path forward to advance the goals of Opening Doors.
10/30/2014 - Partnerships for Opening Doors – Ending Homelessness through Meaningful and Sustainable Employment
“One of the best ways to eliminate homelessness is to get people jobs,” said Labor Secretary and Chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Thomas Perez at the Partnerships for Opening Doors summit, which took place at the Labor Department's headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 16, 2014.
Co-hosted by the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), USICH and the Butler Family Fund, the day-long national summit focused on integrating employment and housing strategies to prevent and end homelessness. Leaders from 11 communities representing Workforce Investment Boards, Continuums of Care, state Workforce Development Councils, advocacy and community-based and national nonprofit organizations engaged in intensive discussions to identify key actions for Federal partners to take to improve access to meaningful and sustainable employment, skills training, and supportive training for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and this year is the 30th anniversary of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.
Every day, people who experience homelessness are subjected to local laws and ordinances that challenge their human rights and create real and lasting barriers.
Just ahead of reporting remarkable advancements in ending homelessness across America, Obama Administration officials who make up the Council met on October 15, 2014, to measure the progress in the work of USICH and its partners, to discuss the data, and to chart the path forward to advance the goals of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
USICH had the privilege of attending the first True Colors Fund Forty to None Summit held September 30, 2014, in New York City. The Summit was a powerful gathering that highlighted the voices of young people in a day-long national convening on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth homelessness.
This week, USICH published a tool to help CoCs better understand reallocations. Creating Effective Systems to End Homelessness: A Guide to Reallocating Funds in the CoC Program.
Forty years ago, the U.S. government took the bold step of making the landmark Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, or RHYA, the law of the land. RHYA is the only Federal law that highlights the need for and funds critical services for youth experiencing homelessness. In July 2014, Congress introduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S.2646), new legislation that, if enacted, would reauthorize and strengthen RHYA. With continued funding for street outreach, basic center and transitional living programs, RYHA provides critical services and support to runaway and homeless youth and plays an important role in the effort end youth homelessness by 2020, a goal set in Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
People experiencing homelessness need homes. This is the simple solution to ending homelessness, right? The complexity comes in finding, and funding, the homes. Read on to find out how stakeholders in King County, Washington, are succeeding at both.
HUD’s annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count serves as the most consistent year-to-year measure of the number of people experiencing homelessness in America. However, the PIT count has been limited in providing a national estimate for one important Opening Doors population: youth unaccompanied by adults.
Homelessness has many faces. People experiencing homelessness can be old or young, male or female, and can come from any ethnic background.
09/03/2014 - Two Tennessee Partnerships Create Effective Solutions for Youth Experiencing Homelessness
Two partnerships in Tennessee that are making a difference in ending youth homelessness in the region.
There are nearly 6,000 unaccompanied youth in Massachusetts. Experiencing homelessness often prevents motivated, hard-working youth from graduating high school and achieving success.
It is not enough for us to do the vitally important daily work that we do at our organizations to combat homelessness. We must also debunk the stereotypes that have sprung up about it. A fallacy that I have heard many times throughout my career is that “people choose to be homeless.” I vehemently disagree. People do not want to be homeless. Period.
Like most partnerships, one of the most critical ingredients is empathy. We have to be able to understand one another's incentives and find the common ground that aligns our work together.
Ending youth homelessness means putting a system in place to do so in every community. Here, having a common purpose is a key ingredient.
Through the 25 Cities initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, communities have been invited to convene local leaders eager to build on their successes, identify new strategies, act decisively to strengthen their coordinated response systems and, in the process, end Veteran homelessness. To get started, teams of dedicated individuals are meeting for two-day-long intensive work sessions that drive a sophisticated planning process, resulting in specific action steps that will be carried out in months – not years.
I recently partnered with the San Diego Regional Continuum of Care Council (RCCC) to host a first-of-its kind discussion locally, billed as Housing First: A Community Conversation for San Diego.
Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the 2014 HMIS Data Dictionary and HMIS Data Manual, with an effective date of October 1, 2014. This joint release demonstrates the significant collaboration between the three agencies to support data collection on homelessness across their programs and systems.
Sparky Harlan, CEO of Bill Wilson Center, talks about the impact of the Center's Family Advocacy Services on preventing homelessness among students while assisting both students and their families.
Setting up a coordinated assessment system is complex and doesn’t happen magically. But don’t let that stop you. Putting coordinated assessment in place doesn’t start with the challenges. It starts when communities decide that the challenges are worth facing.
Last week, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness elected Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as its Chair for 2014, transitioning from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. After assuming the gavel, Secretary Donovan praised the Secretary’s Shinseki’s leadership on the Council.