NEW USICH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR APPOINTED AT SECOND COUNCIL MEETING OF ADMINISTRATION
October 20, 2009
Council Members Congratulate Barbara Poppe (standing)
The Obama Administration held the second Full Council meeting of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness yesterday. It was the first meeting chaired by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who was elected chair by his fellow Cabinet Members and agency heads at the Council's first meeting on June 18, 2009. Members of the homeless advocacy community including the National Law Center on Homelessness and Policy, National Alliance to End Homelessness, and National Coalition for the Homeless attended and participated for the first time in several years.
Secretary Donovan noted that we live in very challenging times. Even as we see most major housing indicators improving and responding to the Administration's comprehensive approach to stabilizing the housing market, the country's overall economic situation continues to put stress on families - and has resulted in numbers of Americans becoming homeless for the first time, many of whom are families with children.
The first action of the meeting was the appointment of Barbara Poppe as the new Executive Director of the Council. For the past 15 years Poppe has served as executive director of the Community Shelter Board in Ohio, which allocates over $12 million annually to support homeless programs and services in Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio. CSB has been nationally recognized in particular for its innovative Rebuilding Lives program. Former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretaries Henry Cisneros and the late Jack Kemp in their 2004 report, coauthored with Kent Colton and Nic Retsinas and published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University: "Opportunity and Progress - A Bipartisan Platform for National Housing Policy," cited CSB's program as a model for the nation in ending chronic homelessness.
Barbara Poppe brings both a deep understanding of how to make federal programs work to benefit homeless persons at the local level and years of engagement at the national level as an advocate, resource person, and thoughtful analyst. No stranger to the challenges and importance of federal agency collaboration in making federal funds more responsive to the needs of local communities, Poppe was invited to represent the 11 grantees of the original HUD-HHS-VA Collaborative Initiative to help end chronic homelessness at the 2003 meeting of the Council where the grants were announced. It Is expected she will take over the duties of Council Executive Director in mid November.
Secretary Donovan also reported that HUD recently issued its annual Notice of Funding Availability for its competitive Continuum of Care homeless programs. Just over $1.4 billion dollars will be awarded to communities. HUD is encouraging communities to continue to use these resources to end chronic homelessness as well as to house other homeless sub-populations, including families with children. HUD expects to fund well over 6,000 projects. This money is in addition to the $1.5 billion dollars HUD received under the Recovery Act for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program, which have been awarded to states and communities.
The meeting also highlighted emerging collaborations among federal agencies to end homelessness. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed the HUD-HHS partnership to strengthen the link between housing, health care and social services. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki updated the Council on the status of the HUD/VASH partnership creating housing opportunities for veterans. He also reported that earlier this month the VA awarded more than $17 million in grants to community groups in 19 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico that will create 1,155 transitional housing beds for homeless veterans this year. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis spoke about the emerging new levels of partnership between Labor and VA on employment for homeless veterans.
Council members also discussed the 2010 Census with Department of Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank and received a report on trends in homeless student data from the Department of Education which oversees administration of the McKinney- Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth program (EHCY) designed to work with states and local educational agencies to improve education outcomes for children and youth in homeless situations.
Nearly half a million children were reported to have received EHCY funded services in the 2007-2008 school year. The Recovery Act provided $70 million in additional EHCY funds to the Department of Education which has been allocated to school districts across the nation. Zollie Stevenson, Department of Education Director of Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs, is shown here during his presentation to the Council.