Baltimore, Boise, Vermont Join “House America” to Address Homelessness Crisis
Several more states and communities recently joined House America, the federal-local partnership to address the nation’s homelessness crisis.
The goal of House America—led by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and Department of Housing and Development (HUD)—is to move at least 100,000 people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing and to start developing at least 20,000 new units of housing that’s affordable by the end of this year.
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, the chair of USICH, launched House America in September 2021 to help make the most of the American Rescue Plan that President Biden signed earlier that year. Since then, mayors, governors, county and tribal leaders of more than 90 communities have joined—most recently including Baltimore; Boise, Idaho; and the state of Vermont.
The American Rescue Plan represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address homelessness. It includes $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers, another $5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program, and $350 billion for State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that can create and preserve housing that’s affordable. Together, with funding from the CARES Act, the pandemic relief can quickly provide homes for more people than ever before—211,000 households.
Homelessness was an urgent public health crisis before the pandemic, which has only made everything harder for most. House America aims to address it with a Housing First approach, meaning communities are treating the life-threatening condition of homelessness first with housing, then treating the symptoms that caused people to lose their home, such as health problems, domestic violence, and unstable work.
Earlier this month, USICH and HUD welcomed Vermont into the House America community alongside Gov. Phil Scott.
“The only way we’re going to end homelessness is if we do it together. We need to collaborate across systems, across sectors, and across jurisdictions,” said USICH’s Beverley Ebersold, the director of national initiatives. “That’s why I’m so happy Vermont is joining forces with the federal government to house America.”
Last month, USICH helped announce the partnership with Baltimore, alongside HUD, Mayor Brandon Scott, and the city’s homeless and housing leaders.
“It's great to see communities embracing an all-of-community approach as they use this time of unprecedented resources to ambitiously drive the needle forward toward ending homelessness,” said Joe Savage, the USICH regional coordinator for Baltimore.
USICH, HUD, and HHS also traveled last month to Boise, Idaho, where Mayor Lauren McLean officially joined House America. The city has focused its response on the connection between homelessness and health care.
“A safe, affordable home,” said Katy Miller, the USICH regional coordinator for Boise, “is the first step toward a healthy, productive life.”
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