You’ve Been Talking, We’ve Been Listening: What We’ve Learned So Far About Strengthening the Federal Strategic Plan

Every couple of years, we take a long, hard look at the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness to see where it needs strengthening and to make sure the plan reflects what many of you are learning as you implement the strongest practices in communities. Revising the plan regularly also help us build an even clearer roadmap for how USICH and our federal partners can best support the progress of states and communities across the country.

Since we launched the newest plan revision process in July, we’ve learned quite a bit from you, both through our in-person listening sessions and our online portal. We wanted to highlight some of the ideas that are bubbling to the surface in order to help spark other ideas you may have. Please continue to send us your feedback

Listening Sessions

We’ve already had listening sessions in 11 communities across the country, where hundreds of partners and stakeholders, including people with lived experience, have weighed in on our work. We try to convene the sessions at conferences and/or other gatherings where we can get the broadest possible representation of people around the region. For example, in Texas and Florida, we hosted sessions at statewide convenings. In Kansas City, while USICH staff are at the annual Runaway and Homeless Youth National Conference we will host a community session in coordination with the Region 7 Federal Regional Interagency Council on Homelessness. Additional sessions are still in the planning phase.

Key Themes

I’ve had the pleasure of facilitating many of these discussions, and am grateful for the honest and robust dialogue I’ve heard. Some of the themes that come up frequently include the need for:

  1. Broader, comprehensive affordable housing policy to increase access to all types of housing, including housing affordable to extremely low-income households and supportive housing.

  2. Aligning affordable housing strategies more powerfully with strategies for ending homelessness, to ensure that people exiting homelessness have expanded access to housing options they can afford.

  3. Addressing racial disparities by supporting communities to understand the relevant data and learn about emerging strategies.

  4. Increasing our understanding of when and how to use prevention and shelter diversion practices so these approaches are targeted and have a direct impact on reducing homelessness.

  5. Greater attention to the housing issues of an aging population, including older adults that have experienced long-term homelessness, as well as the needs of older adults to retain housing.

  6. Expanding strategies that support people to secure and retain jobs, particularly through stronger connections with workforce development systems and more supported employment opportunities.

  7. Strengthening connections between homelessness service providers and mainstream systems that offer other vital services, like substance use treatment, mental health services, TANF resources, and child welfare.

  8. Retaining a focus on youth homelessness by developing ongoing guidance for communities to implement coordinated systems that utilize best practices and effective intervention models.

  9. Continuing to stay focused and drive progress on the concrete criteria and benchmarks for what it means to end homelessness for each subpopulation.

  10. Getting feedback and input from those who are or who have experienced homelessness and incorporating their voice and perspectives in both developing and implementing the Plan.

We'll be working to address these areas in our development of a revised and strengthened federal plan—and, in the meantime, we'll also be working to make progress in these areas through our ongoing work and through our partnerships with other federal agencies.

The Plan Needs You

As someone who works with communities every day, I know that the roadmap we create in the strategic plan can only work if it reflects the reality of the work that you do and addresses the challenges you face. Thank you for your willingness to contribute to the conversation, and please keep your feedback coming!