United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No on should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.
February 27, 2014


Earlier this week, USICH Council Chair Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, hosted an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to honor the service of USICH Executive Director Barbara Poppe. The event featured remarks from Secretary Donovan, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Finance and Protection Bureau, and Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Incoming USICH Executive Director Laura Zeilinger emceed the program, which was attended by more than 80 guests representing the Federal, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors.


The speakers stressed that the Obama Administration remains fully committed to the goal of preventing and ending homelessness. Ms. Munoz said, "one of the things Barbara has taught us all is that homelessness is not an intractable problem. We know what we must do to prevent and end it, and Opening Doors is the plan we must follow to do so."


In thanking Ms. Poppe for her service, Secretary Donovan said, "Barbara has been a fearless and lifelong advocate for people experiencing homelessness. She has made us all stand up and be accountable for ensuring that no one in our country has to sleep on the street." He added that one of the marks of a great leader is the talented team he or she builds. "Barbara has created a tremendous team at USICH and I look forward to working closely with each of them as we continue the work that was started under Barb's tenure." 


Whether working in the nation's capital or in States and communities across the country, USICH's team of talented and resourceful professionals are committed to carrying out the Obama Administration's mission to prevent and end homelessness. As USICH moves through a leadership transition from Barbara Poppe to Laura Zeilinger as the incoming executive director, we thought a "refresher" on the complement of USICH team would be helpful. Below are short profiles of policy and program staff who work directly with our Federal partner agencies, and State and local leaders.


Laura Green Zeilinger, Incoming Executive Director


On March 7, Laura Green Zeilinger will step up to the role of Executive Director and lead the implementation of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, an effort that includes coordinating all homelessness policies among 19 Federal departments and agencies as well as partnerships among State and local communities, non-profits, and the private sector. 





A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), highlights USICH's successful approach to collaboration among groups in the Federal government. In Managing for Results: Implementation Approaches Used to Enhance Collaboration in Interagency Groups, the GAO selected four interagency groups that met its key practices for enhancing and sustaining collaboration to learn about the approaches they used and found to be successful. "USICH is honored to be highlighted in this important GAO report," said Barbara Poppe, USICH Executive Director. "Effective collaborations reduce duplication and increase efficiencies and cost-effectiveness. I encourage State and local interagency councils on homelessness, or other interagency efforts, to use this report as a model for the most important ingredients for effective collaborations."


To identify successful approaches, GAO reviewed agency documents, hosted two panels with expert practitioners who received the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award, and interviewed agency officials who participated in these groups. The report outlined four key considerations for implementing collaborative interagency efforts:

  • Clearly outlined short-term and long-term outcomes
  • Performance measures to track progress
  • Defined and agreed upon roles and responsibilities
  • Mechanisms for funding and staffing

Ensuring participation from high-level leaders in regular, in-person group meetings and activities was also noted as an important aspect of effective collaboration. USICH served as the main example of this aspect. The report highlighted that at least three Cabinet Secretaries attend each USICH Council meeting, and the meetings are held at least four times a year. Read the full report here.



USICH's website houses an abundance of research,guidance, and tools community leaders can use to shape their policies and practices. Below are five resources visitors to the site find most useful.


1. USICH's PHA Guidebook: This guidebook provides guidance and examples of best practices to help strengthen your PHA's collaborative efforts.


2. Solutions Database: The USICH Solutions Database is a searchable, up-to-date source of innovative best practices from Federal, State and local levels. The database contains short profiles of important practices and programs as well as links to help users locate addition information and resources. 

Youth Framework: Building on the 2010 amendment to Opening Doors, the USICH Youth Framework clarifies what specifically needs to be done to prevent and end homelessness among youth by the year 2020.

4. Family Connection
: This guide contains a definition of what it means to end homelessness among families, key areas of action to meet that goal, and a variety of other resources related to ending family homelessness.


5. Housing First Checklist: This user-friendly tool is intended to practitioners help make a basic assessment of whether and to what degree a particular housing program is employing a Housing First approach. It also features short profiles of important practices and programs, including tips for replicating information about results, and links to additional resources. 




The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Center for Mental Health Services has announced that it is accepting applications for fiscal year 2014 Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals for States (CABHI). The purpose of the program is to increase States' capacity to provide accessible, effective, comprehensive, coordinated/integrated, and evidence-based treatment services for people who experience chronic homelessness. The funds must be used to serve individuals with substance use disorders, serious mental illnesses, or co-occurring substance use and mental disorders. SAMHSA seeks to increase the number of program-enrolled individuals placed in permanent housing that supports recovery through comprehensive treatment and recovery-oriented services for behavioral health. The program will make up to 18 awards for projects lasting up to three years in duration. The deadline for applications is Monday, April 14, 2014


More information can be found here



USICH, in partnership with the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), has released Core Components of Rapid Re-housing -- a resource intended to help communities and providers implement effective rapid re-housing programs.


Rapid re-housing is an intervention designed to help individuals and families to quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing. Rapid re-housing assistance is offered without preconditions (such as employment, income, absence of criminal record, or sobriety) and the resources and services provided are typically tailored to the unique needs of the household. The core components of a rapid re-housing program are divided into three categories: housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and rapid re-housing case management and services. While a rapid re-housing program must have all three core components available, it is not required that a single entity provide all three services nor that a household utilize them all. 



Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released the Study of PHAs' Efforts to Serve People Experiencing Homelessness. The report summarizes the results of a survey of over 3,000 public housing agencies to determine their current level and types of participation in efforts to end homelessness, what factors contribute to participation, and what barriers they face to serving people experiencing homelessness. The findings reveal that PHAs are by and large willing partners, but a still untapped resource in efforts to end homelessness. PHAs are responsive to homelessness in their communities and many are already engaged in efforts to provide housing for people experiencing homelessness. However, many PHAs are not yet exercising the full range of actions they can take-actions such as limited preferences that commit specific numbers of Housing Choice Vouchers or public housing units or changes to screening policies that reduce barriers to entry. Partnerships with CoCs and homeless services providers and prior experience administering special voucher programs like HUD-VASH can deepen PHA engagement in homelessness efforts, and are likely to help PHAs address many of the identified barriers to serving populations experiencing homelessness. 


USICH recently released the PHA Guidebook, which provides guidance and best practices PHAs can use to strengthen their collaborative efforts to prevent and end homelessness. 


Table of Contents
Meet the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
USICH Featured in GAO Report on Effective Collaboration
USICH's Top 5 Resources
HHS Announces $21 Million for States to Provide Services for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness
New Rapid Re-housing Resource
New HUD Study Reveals PHA Willingness to Serve People Experiencing Homelessness
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By Barbara Poppe, 
Executive Director of USICH

When I stepped into this position, I had a very Ohio-centric view of responses to homelessness. But over the course of my tenure, I've visited communities where I've met with providers as well as families who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness. Everywhere I go, 100 percent of homeless services providers are compassionate, caring, and hardworking.  All want to do the best thing for families and children.  Everyone is committed to the best results. What has been surprising, though, is how the unique and individual needs of families sometimes seem to get lost in how programs are run. The structure of the program or facility and the program expectations or rules can all become barriers to serving the range of families that experience homelessness within a community.


Further complicating this can be the lack of true collaboration. Instead programs are loosely networked with families falling through the cracks of the so called "system of care." While the good intentions are evident, the consequences for children, youth and parents treated can be quite negative. 








On February 11, the White House hosted a meeting organized by HUD with homelessness and affordable housing stakeholders from across the country to discuss efforts to enroll low-income Americans in health care coverage that is now available because of the Affordable Care Act. Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, urged the participants to do what is right for the individuals and families who live in affordable housing or who face nights without a roof over their head.


"As the President has said, the great challenge of our time is fulfilling the basic American promise that every person should get a fair shot and the opportunity to thrive," said Secretary Donovan. "That means every American deserves an affordable home in a safe neighborhood. It also means every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care you can depend on because no one should have to choose between paying the rent or paying their medical bills."



Regional Coordinator


USICH is currently recruiting for a Regional Coordinator to join its National Initiatives team and to serve as the bridge between the work of the Council and States and communities across the United States. Regional Coordinators are currently based in several locations throughout the country.  Preference will be given to candidates who are located in or are willing to relocate at their own expense to any of the following states: Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, or Washington State.


Find out more here


Communications Specialist

USICH is recruiting for a Communications Specialist to join its team in Washington, DC. The Communications Specialist is responsible for executing a variety of communications functions. The incumbent will have direct involvement with critical and sensitive projects at the highest levels of the Federal government, and, among other duties, will be responsible for managing the agency's website and other digital communications platforms.

Upcoming Events

March 6, 2014, 2:00- 3:00 PM ET

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty Webinar: Tent Cities, Homelessness & Human Rights

 More Information

March 12- 14, 2014

Housing First Partners Conference
Chicago, Illinois

 More Information 

National Coalition for Homeless Education Webinar Series

McKinney-Vento 101: Knowing and Applying the Law
March 18th, 2014
2:00-3:30 PM ET

Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Homeless Students
March 20, 2014
2:00-3:30 PM ET
Determining Eligibility for McKinney-Vento Rights and Services 
March 25, 2014
2:00-3:15 PM ET
Paving the Way to College for Students Experiencing Homelessness 
March 26, 2014
2:00-3:15 PM ET


March 18, 2014, 3:30-5:00 PM ET

Ending Youth Homelessness: Preliminary Intervention Model Webinar


March 24-25, 2014

National Network for Youth's 
National Summit on Youth Homelessness
Washington, D.C.
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