We know what it will take to end homelessness in our country. We've outlined our top priorites for 2016 to get us closer than ever before.
01/04/2016 - Council Adopts Additional Strategies to Advance Progress on Preventing & Ending Family Homelessness
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and its 19 member agencies convened in December to review progress on ending family homelessness and to propose an additional set of strategies that would continue to drive action to achieve the goals of Opening Doors.
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.
Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of family homelessness. Individuals and their children are often faced with a heart-wrenching choice – remain in a dangerous situation or leave with no safe place to go.
We are committed to supporting communities at the local and state level in building partnerships that are responsive to the unique needs of victims and work to prevent and end homelessness. In honor of this week's #PurpleThursday, we compiled five resources for action:
As communities across the country come together to support Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we are acutely aware of the intersection between family homelessness and domestic violence. Policy Director Jasmine Hayes discusses what it will take to end family homelessness and the need to support domestic violence service providers.
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.
06/04/2015 - The CT Head Start-Family Shelter Partnership: Working Together to Meet the Needs of Families
Surprisingly, we are more likely to find ourselves in a homeless shelter at age one that at any other age in our lives. This remains true through age five. Half of all children in family shelters are age five or younger. In order to address this, Head Start and family shelters in Connecticut have come together to combine resources so that they can better meet the particular needs of pregnant women, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families.
05/13/2015 - Public Housing Authorities and Continuums of Care: Establishing and Maintaining Powerful Teams
Although they have long been assisting families and individuals experiencing homelessness, more and more public housing authorities (PHAs) are emerging as heroes in the fight to end homelessness –making housing those experiencing homelessness a formal focus of their efforts, often overcoming regulatory hurdles and limited resources.
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).
Veterans and families were the focus of the April 2015 Council Meeting.
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.
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.
02/25/2015 - Positive Outcomes for Victims of Domestic Violence and Families through Housing First Pilot Program
The link between domestic violence and homelessness is well-documented. Regardless of whether survivors seek help through homelessness services, housing assistance, or domestic violence programs, research shows a strong correlation between domestic violence and 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.
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.
In 2012, the number of families experiencing homelessness living in the shelter system in Massachusetts had increased significantly. As a shelter entitlement State, Massachusetts law provides immediate access to shelter to families that are determined eligible.
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.
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.
10/31/2014 - Good News from New Orleans: Federal and Community Collaboration Helped Transform This Veteran’s Life
Mr. H. seems like a completely different person from the man I met just a few months ago.
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.
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.
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.
Whether as a result of a health or economic crisis or fleeing domestic violence, the experience of homelessness is extremely traumatizing for families generally, and can be especially traumatizing for children. We know that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every family experiencing a housing crisis. Connecting families to housing interventions and services that are appropriate to their specific needs is an essential part of the actions we identified as critical to meeting the goal of ending homelessness.
Homelessness has many faces. People experiencing homelessness can be old or young, male or female, and can come from any ethnic background.
09/10/2014 - How Our Shelter Began Focusing on Permanent Housing, And Started Ending Homelessness for Our Clients
When I joined the staff of Northern Virginia Family Service (NVSF) as the program manager of the SERVE Shelter in February 2010, I had many things to learn about the 60-bed facility for singles and families located in Manassas, Va., approximately 35 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. Though the beds were filled, it was evident that clients were staying for long periods of time, many up to six months or longer.
07/09/2014 - Supportive Services for Veteran Families: A Powerful Tool to Keep Veterans and Their Families Home
So what makes SSVF such an effective program in ending and preventing homelessness for Veteran households? There are several key ingredients.
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.
In the first, of what I learned would be many, interagency meetings on chronic homelessness, Housing First adoption was discussed as a primary strategy for accelerating progress. And one of the very first tasks I was given was to help provide a clear, operational definition of Housing First.
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.
Executive Director of USICH Barbara Poppe provides examples of how the Family Connection resource can improve communities' approach to helping families experiencing homelessness.
02/20/2014 - Working in Partnership to End Homelessness among Families: The Importance of Clarity of Purpose
Incoming Executive Director of USICH Laura Zeilinger discusses what an end to family homelessness actually means, and how the new Family Connection tool can aid communities and stakeholders in realizing this goal.
Robert Pulster, Regional Coordinator for USICH, reflects on his recent trip to New Hampshire, where he shared USICH's new resource on family homelessness.
Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families Mark Greenberg discusses in detail what is being done to end homelessness among families now and what will be done in order to end family homelessness by 2020.
Susanne Beaton, Director of the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation, shares how a "new vision of stabilization for families" led to the creation of the Secure Jobs initiative, a collaboration between State and community partners that brought promising results.
02/05/2014 - A Paradigm Shift: How Fairfax County Made Significant Gains in Ending Family Homelessness
Dean Klein, director of the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness in Virginia, relates how a shift from managing to ending homelessness led to innovative practices, strong collaborations, and truly incredible results.
On July 9th, the Obama Administration convened a meeting to push forward its agenda to end homelessness.