FINAL COUNCIL MEETING OF 2010 FOCUSES ON CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS AND ELECTS NEW LEADERSHIP
December 17, 2010
The Obama Administration held its fourth full Council meeting of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) on December 16. Outgoing Chair and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan was joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, and USICH Executive Director Barbara Poppe. The meeting concluded with the election of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis as the new Chair of the Council for 2011 and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius elected as Vice Chair.
The final meeting of 2010 discussed in greater detail what needs to be done by all 19 agencies to finish the job of ending chronic homelessness by 2015. Secretaries in attendance highlighted the ways in which their agencies individually were working toward this goal, as well as ways agencies are collaborating.
One of the most substantive collaborations discussed was the planning for the HUD-HHS chronic homeless voucher demonstration pending in Congress. This would pair Medicaid and SAMHSA wrap-around services with Housing Choice Vouchers. HHS also discussed the significant opportunities that arise out of health reform, as Medicaid will now also extend to single, childless adults with incomes under 133% of the poverty level; a group disproportionately represented in the chronically homeless population. HHS is also exploring further opportunities within the agency following this reform, including health homes, expansion of home and community-based services, and integration of health and behavioral health care through Federally Qualified Health Centers and community behavioral health organizations.
HUD Secretary Donovan discussed the goals in 2011 for permanent supportive housing as a best practice for ending chronic homelessness. VA Secretary Shinseki elaborated on work that was done at the National Forum on Ending Veterans Homelessness in December to engage the full VA health system in the battle to end chronic homelessness among Veterans. Education Secretary Duncan, Labor Secretary Solis and the Social Security Administration also highlighted new work that will also help end chronic homelessness.
While the principals acknowledged the uncertainty of Congressional decisions on the FY2011 budget, members in attendance reiterated their commitment to work with their available resources to make progress toward the goal of ending chronic homelessness.
In addition to the four Cabinet Secretaries in attendance, the Council meeting included Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Patrick Corvington, Labor Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Administration Jane Oates, and VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Tammy Duckworth. A total of 16 agencies were represented, along with the White House Domestic Policy Council.