USICH, HUD Launch House America Initiative to Address Homelessness Crisis
Today, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge, who serves as chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), joined Biden administration officials, Cabinet members, and elected officials to launch House America: An All-Hands-On-Deck Effort to Address the Nation’s Homelessness Crisis.
House America is a national partnership in which HUD and USICH invite mayors, county leaders, Tribal nation leaders, and governors to use the historic investments provided through the American Rescue Plan to address the crisis of homelessness through a Housing First approach by immediately re-housing and building additional housing for people experiencing homelessness.
“The health and well-being of individuals and families and the economic security of our communities is at stake,” said Secretary Fudge. “It’s going to take government working at all levels and local collaboration to address homelessness and to guarantee housing as a right for every American. Together, let’s house America.”
House America is the federal government’s direct response to the crisis of homelessness, which was rising even before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, HUD released its 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part 1 to Congress, which found that more than 580,000 people experienced homelessness in the United States on a single night in January 2020—prior to the pandemic. COVID-19 has created greater urgency to address homelessness, given the heightened risks faced by people experiencing homelessness. At the same time, COVID-19 has slowed re-housing activities due to capacity issues and impacts on rental market vacancies.
“The good news is that we know the solutions. We know what works. Even with the recent rise in homelessness, the overall number of people experiencing homelessness has dropped 9% since 2010,” said USICH Interim Executive Director Anthony Love, who delivered closing remarks during the launch. (Read his full remarks below.)
Through the American Rescue Plan, communities now have historic resources—including 70,000 emergency housing vouchers, $5 billion in HOME grants, $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds through the Department of the Treasury, and significant investments to preserve and protect housing on tribal lands—to help more Americans obtain the safety of a stable home. Communities also have resources remaining through the CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and state and local resources to re-house people experiencing homelessness and create additional dedicated housing units to address homelessness. House America provides communities with the focus, resolve, and technical know-how needed to deploy these resources to maximize impact.
House America calls on state, tribal, and local leaders to partner with HUD and USICH to use American Rescue Plan resources—alongside other federal, tribal, state, and local resources—to set and achieve ambitious goals to re-house households experiencing homelessness through a Housing First approach, and to add new units of affordable housing into the development pipeline by December 31, 2022. Within the national goals, communities will set and achieve local re-housing and unit creation goals.
Secretary Fudge launched House America during a virtual event, which included panel discussions on re-housing and unit creation and the following speakers:
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Vice Chair of USICH Denis McDonough;
- White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling;
- Governor Gavin Newsom of California;
- Governor Janet Mills of Maine;
- Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., of Cherokee Nation;
- Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, Texas;
- Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Alabama;
- Mayor Andrew Ginther of Columbus, Ohio;
- Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver;
- Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City, Missouri;
- Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles;
- Mayor John Giles of Mesa, Arizona;
- Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava of Miami-Dade County, Florida;
- Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark, New Jersey;
- Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland, California;
- Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia;
- Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona;
- Mayor Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, California;
- Mayor Todd Gloria of San Diego;
- Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle; and
- Supervisor Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles County.
“The [people] you’ve heard from today only represent a small fraction of leaders who not only care about this issue but are willing to make it a priority. Now, we’re asking the rest to join us,” said Love.
To learn more about the American Rescue Plan, read the following USICH resources:
- A Guide to the American Rescue Plan Funding That Impacts People Experiencing Homelessness
- 10 Strategies to Reduce Homelessness With the American Rescue Plan
Prepared Remarks for Anthony Love, USICH Interim Executive Director:
I’m Anthony Love, interim executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. I first want to thank Secretary Fudge, the chair of USICH, for launching this all-hands-on-deck, nationwide effort and all the leaders who have signed up for this initiative.
At USICH, our sole mission is focused on preventing and ending homelessness. We help state, local, and tribal governments create partnerships and effectively use all the resources at their disposal to end homelessness.
USICH knows how committed so many mayors, county executives, tribal leaders, and governors are to addressing homelessness. The ones you’ve heard from today only represent a small fraction of leaders who not only care about this issue but are willing to make it a priority. Now, we’re asking the rest to join us.
By signing up for House America, state and local governments will get critical support in accomplishing their goals. The American Rescue Plan has already made billions of dollars available to rehouse people and build more affordable housing. But money alone won’t achieve our goals. House America offers extra help through a whole-of-government approach to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
Homelessness has been a challenge for many communities for quite some time. The pandemic, and the recent increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness, has intensified the urgent need to get people into housing. Since 2016, the number of Americans experiencing homelessness has been growing, and some troubling trends have emerged. For the first time since HUD started collecting this data, more individuals are living on the streets than in shelters. People without a permanent home are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. The pandemic threatens their lives and has made it harder for them to get re-housed.
The good news is that we know the solutions. We know what works. Even with the recent rise in homelessness, the overall number of people experiencing homelessness has dropped 9% since 2010. Also, by joining a previous federal initiative, 82 communities and 3 states announced an end to veteran homelessness.
At the core of all this progress is the Housing First approach. Compared to other methods, Housing First, when done right, houses people quicker and reduces the likelihood of re-experiencing homelessness. Both the evidence and the logic make clear that permanent housing ends homelessness.
People experiencing homelessness are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. They are us. We are collectively the United States, and it’s our duty to make every effort to ensure that every person has access to a safe and affordable home. Today’s launch of House America demonstrates the commitment of not only the federal government but leaders across the country to live up to that duty.
Of course, we know there will be challenges. We know it won’t be easy. But House America’s purpose is to help communities overcome those challenges and to change the lives of the men, women, and children who are homeless in communities across the country. To learn more or join, visit the House America website.
We look forward to you joining us and helping us to house America.
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