The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) is a collaborative partnership between federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector with a goal of coordinating efforts to reduce and end homelessness.
History of the Council
Then known as the Interagency Council on the Homeless, USICH was authorized by Title II of the landmark Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act enacted on July 22, 1987 (PL 100-77). The Council was created as an “independent establishment” within the executive branch to review the effectiveness of federal activities and programs to assist people experiencing homelessness, promote better coordination among agency programs, and inform state and local governments and public and private sector organizations about the availability of federal homeless assistance. The name was changed in 2002 when the Council members voted to approve changing the name of the agency to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. This change was enacted into law in 2004 (PL 108-199).
The most recent reauthorization of USICH occurred in 2009 with enactment of the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act. (PL111-22).
The current members of the Council include the heads of the following 19 departments and agencies:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Department of Commerce
- U.S. Department of Defense
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Department of Energy
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- U.S. Department of the Interior
- U.S. Department of Justice
- U.S. Department of Labor
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Corporation for National and Community Service
- General Services Administration
- Office of Management and Budget
- Social Security Administration
- United States Postal Service
- White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives
Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness
The Council developed a strategic plan, Opening Doors, (PDF, 74 pages) which was presented to the Office of the President and Congress on June 22, 2010. Opening Doors sets the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2017, and to ending homelessness among youth, and families with children by 2020. The plan presents strategies building upon the lesson that mainstream housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness:
- Increasing leadership, collaboration, and civic engagement, with a focus on providing and promoting collaborative leadership at all levels of government and across all sectors, and strengthening the capacity of public and private organizations by increasing knowledge about collaboration and successful interventions to prevent and end homelessness
- Increasing access to stable and affordable housing, by providing affordable housing and permanent supportive housing
- Increasing economic security, by expanding opportunities for meaningful and sustainable employment and improving access to mainstream programs and services to reduce financial vulnerability to homelessness
- Improving health and stability by linking health care with homeless assistance programs and housing, advancing stability for youth aging out of systems such as foster care and juvenile justice, and improving discharge planning for people who have frequent contact with hospitals and criminal justice systems
- Retooling the homeless response system by transforming homeless services to crisis response systems that prevent homelessness and rapidly returning people who experience homelessness to stable housing
Framework to Address Youth Homelessness
The USICH met on June 12, 2012, with a focus on addressing the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020. The meeting included policy experts from a range of federal agencies. These experts suggested a framework (PDF, 15 pages) for addressing the goals in the strategic plan and ending youth homelessness. The framework provides strategies for how to approach the problem of youth homelessness through a more coordinated approach and 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. Listen to Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services, discuss the framework and hear experts in the field respond.
Note: Text adapted from http://www.usich.gov/about_us/
Opening Doors (PDF, 74 pages)
Opening Doors is the strategic plan developed by the USICH. The plan sets the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2017, and homelessness among youth, and families with children by 2020. The plan presents strategies building upon the lesson that mainstream housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness.
Federal Programs to End Homelessness
There are many federal programs that are designed to help prevent and end homelessness. Some are specifically targeted toward this goal, while others, referred to as "mainstream programs" are available to all low-income persons who meet eligibility criteria. Click on "Departments" on the page to learn about what different departments are doing to end homelessness.
Opening Doors: Framework to Address Homelessness Among Youth (PDF, 15 pages)
This framework, presented at the June 2012 USICH meeting, provides a strategic approach to addressing youth homelessness in a coordinated manner using an intervention model that incorporates research-based interventions to address risk factors and promote protective factors.
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