United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No on should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.
Leveraging Mainstream Systems Is Critical to Ending Homelessness

July 28, 2014
USICH council end homelessness access mainstream resources systems
The USICH Council met on July 18, 2014 to discuss progress and planned actions to increase the degree to which Federal mainstream programs and resources are being brought to bear in efforts to end homelessness.

Obama Administration Deepens Commitment to End Homelessness

A Message from Laura Green Zeilinger, USICH Executive Director
labor health human services secretary thomas perez sylvia mathews burwell usich council end homelessness
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell have been selected to serve as Chair and Vice Chair of the USICH Council.


Council Selects Labor Secretary Thomas Perez as Chair, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell as Vice Chair

Every day, all across the country, front-line providers and practitioners, advocates and outreach workers are applying their dedication, skill, and passion to support our nation's Veterans, families, youth and our most vulnerable neighbors to find hope and housing. The Obama Administration is proud of the work communities have done to convert challenges into opportunities and to end homelessness for so many Americans. In confronting the obstacles and challenges that remain, we are fully your partner.

In the four years since the launch of Opening Doors, together we have shown that homelessness is a solvable problem. Yet, we must work smarter, and with stronger partnerships, if we are going to solve it. We need to do more of what works: using data to drive results and implementing evidence-based practices like permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing and community-wide adoption of Housing First. And we need to better leverage the array of mainstream programs in our efforts.

The drum beat from this Administration is quickening and growing louder. President Obama is committed to ending homelessness, not just managing it - leading this Administration to more effective policies and requesting historic new investments in real solutions. First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Dr. Jill Biden and Joining Forces, are engaging more partners in the effort by issuing a call to local leaders to join the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by the end of 2015.  Currently, more than 165 mayors, governors, and county officials have joined the challenge. We could not be more honored that Mrs. Obama will address more than 1,600 people from across the country who are working to end homelessness later this week at the National Alliance to End Homelessness annual conference.

Throughout the Administration, President Obama has appointed leaders who are personally dedicated to ending homelessness and who are focused on achieving outcomes. I am pleased to share that the Council selected Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to serve as Council Chair and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to serve as Vice Chair. With our focus intensifying on leveraging mainstream systems to end homelessness, the strong leadership and personal commitment of both Secretary Perez and Secretary Burwell will build and strengthen the bridges between health care and housing and the ladders of opportunity for all Americans-including increasing meaningful and sustainable employment for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. Former HUD Secretary Donovan will shift seats at the Council table as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Today, USICH also welcomes HUD Secretary Julián Castro to his seat on the Council. Secretary Castro will continue HUD's strong leadership on Opening Doors and strong partnership with communities. In fact, as evidence of the deep commitment of both he and HUD to end homelessness, Secretary Castro will give his first public speech as HUD Secretary at the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. I am honored to have the privilege of introducing him there.

The commitment of this Administration to end homelessness has only continued to strengthen - so too has our partnership with you. Together, we have changed the trajectory of homelessness in America. Together we will end it.

Thank you for your partnership.

Council Focuses on Leveraging Mainstream Systems, Discusses an Amendment to Opening Doors, and Elects New Leadership


On July 18, 2014, HUD Secretary and Council Chair Shaun Donovan convened Council agencies for the second meeting of 2014. Council agencies discussed efforts to leverage Federal mainstream resources in the areas of housing, employment, income supports, education, and health care to end homelessness.  The Council also discussed the proposed amendment to Opening Doors and elected new Council leadership.


This was Donovan's last Council meeting as HUD Secretary and as Council Chair. Donovan - now Director of the Office of Management and Budget - reflected on his encounters with homelessness from his childhood in New York City, where he noticed the explosion of homelessness on his morning walks to school, to his volunteer work at a homeless shelter in college, to his internship at the National Coalition for the Homeless. 


"I never could have imagined I would be sitting here at this table with all of you helping lead what I think has been the most comprehensive, smartest, most aggressive campaign against homelessness this country has ever seen, culminating in a President who is actually willing to say we're not going to just put a bandage on this problem. We're going to end it," said Donovan.


Read more of the Council Update.


USICH Connects with Public Housing Leaders at NAHRO


On July 19, 2014, USICH Executive Director Laura Green Zeilinger joined NAHRO President Preston Prince in an open discussion with housing officials from across the country at the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) Summer Conference in Tampa, FL. NAHRO is a professional membership organization comprised of housing officials who administer affordable housing and community development programs at the local level. The Summer Conference provided more than 450 practitioners across the country an opportunity to learn how public, private, and nonprofit groups are overcoming challenges to create affordable housing and build stronger communities.   


In her remarks, Zeilinger stressed the critical role public housing agencies (PHAs) play in providing the affordable housing necessary for families and individuals to overcome homelessness. She highlighted a growing number of PHAs that are leading the effort to prevent and end homelessness in their communities by innovating ways to connect housing with services.  "When PHAs come to the table, you bring others in your community with you," she told attendees.  "PHAs driving progress have demonstrated the ability to overcome barriers by creating meaningful partnerships on a local level with schools, community health centers, and other community-based services."  She also urged PHAs to serve on Continuum of Care (CoC) boards to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of local planning efforts to end homelessness.


She also acknowledged the financial challenges that PHAs face due to budget cuts and sequestration and affirmed the Administration's commitment to provide PHAs additional resources. PHAs experiencing financial constraints are also encouraged to explore with local service providers ways they might offset administrative costs by taking steps to mitigate challenges associated with repeated apartment inspections, application processing, and housing searches. 



New Study: Strong Implementation of Housing First in Permanent Supportive Housing Leads to Better Housing Retention and Substance Use Outcomes

USICH Senior Policy Director Contributes to Housing First Research in Psychiatric Services Journal

A study to be published in the next issue of Psychiatric Services finds a positive association between fidelity to the Housing First approach and improved housing and substance use outcomes in permanent supportive housing.  The study's authors are researchers from the National Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction at Columbia University (CASAColumbia), CSH's consultant Bryan Kutner, and Richard Cho, USICH's Senior Policy Director. 


"There is already compelling evidence that Housing First in permanent supportive housing results in improved housing stability and better health for people experiencing chronic homelessness, including people with substance use disorders," says Jon Morgenstern of CASAColumbia. "We now have evidence that the degree to which those outcomes are achieved depends on how well Housing First is implemented." 


To assist communities and providers with Housing First implementation and fidelity, USICH has developed the Housing First Checklist, a practical tool for assessing the degree to which programs and community responses are using the Housing First approach, including in permanent supportive housing programs.  


Connect with USICH at These Informative Sessions


This week, the National Alliance to End Homelessness will host its annual conference in Washington, DC, convening policymakers and practitioners who are working across the country to prevent and end homelessness. The three-day event will offer more than 100 workshops and sessions and will feature plenary remarks from First Lady Michelle Obama, HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Senator Cory Booker, and USICH Executive Director Laura Green Zeilinger. USICH and Federal partners are looking forward to participating in conversations with stakeholders in preconference and workshop sessions throughout the week. We hope that this guide to our participation will help our partners connect with the USICH team at the conference. We're looking forward to seeing you.


 Check out our conference schedule on the USICH Blog.


News from Our Partners
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Issues Housing First in Permanent Supportive Housing Brief and Rapid Re-Housing Brief

Read a letter from Ann Oliva, of HUD's Community Planning and Development Office of Special Needs Assistance Program, describing Housing First as a policy priority and offering additional insights for CoCs, grantees and other stakeholders. 

Letter from Ann Oliva to Grant Recipients, CoC Leaders and Stakeholders

The Administration for Children & Families (ACF) Develops New Resource: Building Partnerships to Address Family Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Releases Memorandum Clarifying When Students Experiencing Homelessness Are Eligible for Free School Meals 
National Alliance to End Homelessness Issues Guidance to Communities on the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

VA National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans Releases Research Brief on Using a Universal Screener to Identify Veterans Experiencing Housing Instability
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty Offers Alternatives to Criminalization in New Report: No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities  

ACF Releases Information Memorandum on the Use of CSBG Funds to Meet Matching Requirements for HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs

A Message from Laura Green Zeilinger
Council Focuses on Leveraging Mainstream Systems
USICH Connects with Public Housing Leaders at NAHRO
New Study on Housing First in Permanent Supportive Housing
Preview of USICH Schedule at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness
News from Our Partners
WIOA is Law
Supportive Services for Veteran Families
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156 mayors, 5 governors, and 5 county officials have committed to end homelessness among Veterans in their communities by the end of 2015.

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president barack obama workforce innovation and opportunity act end homelessness
President Obama signs the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act into law.


On July 22, 2014, the nation marked important milestones in the effort to create opportunity for all: President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law, signaling significant reforms to the nation's workforce system. At the same time, Vice President Biden released a new report on the President's job-skills agenda, detailing actions by the Federal government and the private sector and successful strategies to help Americans access career pathways and ladders of opportunity. By fostering greater access to and support for employment among people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, WIOA and the President's job-skills agenda will accelerate progress on ending homelessness. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness recognizes that accessing ladders of opportunity and overcoming barriers to employment are essential to obtaining and maintaining housing, as well as to finding meaning and purpose, and to thriving.



peter nicewicz usich management and policy analyst end homelessness veterans families
Peter Nicewicz USICH Management and Policy Analyst

Based on previous analysis, we already knew that the VA's Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program is not only effective, but it is cost-effective as well. It now costs about $2,400 to serve each Veteran household through the program, a 12 percent decrease since its first year of operations.


So what makes SSVF such an effective program in ending and preventing homelessness for Veteran households? There are several key ingredients.


Read more.

In Case You Missed It

HUD and USICH: Core Principles of Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing Webinar


USICH and HUD recently hosted "Core Principles of Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing," a webinar designed for homelessness service providers, communities, and policymakers to understand the core components of the Housing First approach and the Rapid Re-Housing model and how both work together to help end homelessness.


Upcoming Events


Health Care for the Homeless Regional Training 

August 14 -16, 2014

University of California, Berkeley-Clark Kerr Campus


This two-day training offers professional development and networking opportunities, through workshops on the Affordable Care Act enrollment and strategies, clinical presentations on infectious diseases and substance abuse treatment, trauma-informed care, integrating HIV testing into primary care, an introduction to the new recuperative/medical respite care standards, street medicine, and a track for consumers. Continuing education credit is available.


Matthew Doherty, USICH Director of National Initiatives, will be on hand to participate in a plenary session on supportive housing.


Learn more.



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