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Opening Doors – Ending Youth Homelessness by 2020

Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, is the nation’s first comprehensive strategy aimed at preventing and ending homelessness, and serves as a roadmap for federal departments as well as local and state partners in the public and private sector to address this critical issue.

The vision for this program is that “no one should experience homelessness—no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home” based around the following goals:

  • Finish the job of ending chronic homelessness by 2015
  • Prevent and end homelessness among veterans by 2015
  • Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children by 2020
  • Set a path to ending all types of homelessness

The plan was developed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), an independent federal agency consisting of 19 federal cabinet secretaries and agency heads, whose mission is to coordinate the federal response to homelessness and to create a national partnership at every level of government and with the private sector to reduce and end homelessness in the nation.

Opening Doors presents strategies that engage federal programs specifically targeted to persons experiencing homelessness  as well as mainstream housing, health, education, and human services programs, which are available to most low-income people, including those who are homeless, to prevent and end homelessness. 

How Opening Doors is Addressing Homeless Youth
A component of Opening Doors focuses specifically on youth, particularly those aging out of the foster care and juvenile justice systems, who are at risk of experiencing homelessness.  On June 12, 2012, the USICH met to advance the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020.  Policy experts from several federal agencies created and put forth a framework to end youth homelessness based on what is known about youth homelessness, its prevalence, and solutions.  

Secretary Sebelius and Secretary Duncan
Secretary Sebelius and Secretary Duncan

 

Expert panelists: Dana Scott, State Coordinator for the McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth program at the Colorado Department of Education and the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, Bob Mecum, CEO of Lighthouse Youth Services, and Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Expert panelists:  Dana Scott, State Coordinator for the McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth program at the Colorado Department of Education and the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, Bob Mecum, CEO of Lighthouse Youth Services, and Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

The framework was presented by Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at HHS.  Commentary and discussion was provided by experts representing Colorado's Department of Education, the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, Lighthouse Youth Services (Cincinnati), and the National Alliance to End Homelessness. See the briefs prepared by each expert here.

HHS Secretary Sebelius chairs the USICH. See her opening remarks from the meeting.

See other videos from the Council meeting:

USICH Director Barbara Poppe leads discussion on modifying and revising the Opening Doors strategic plan

Commissioner Bryan Samuels presents the framework, and experts respond

HHS Secretary Sebelius gives closing remarks

The new framework provides strategies for how to approach the problem of youth homelessness in a more coordinated and effective way across different disciplines working with this population.  The framework includes a preliminary intervention model that builds on knowledge of effective, research-based interventions for subgroups of youth.  Using this framework as a guide, stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels can begin to work collaboratively with all agencies and programs that serve youth experiencing homelessness to make meaningful and measureable improvements in core outcomes for youth.

For more information about the Opening Doors strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness, please visit the USICH’s website on youth.