Presented to the Office of the President and Congress on June 22, 2010, Opening Doors is the nation’s first comprehensive Federal strategy to prevent and end homelessness. The Plan includes 10 objectives, five themes, and 66 strategies that guide the nation toward accomplishing all four goals of the Plan. Opening Doors serves as a roadmap for coordinated, joint action among the 19 USICH member agencies that make up the Council, along with local and state partners in the public and private sectors.
In June of 2015, Opening Doors was amended to reaffirm the strategies that continue to prove effective in preventing and ending homelessness and add additional strategies that we have learned in the last five years are critical to success. The 2015 Amendment encompasses much of the original Plan, but with some additions and clarifications that further strengthen its value as a living blueprint for action.
The plan puts us on a path to end Veterans homelessness by 2015, chronic homelessness by 2017, and homelessness among children, families, and youth by 2020. Opening Doors presents objectives and themes that build upon the lesson that mainstream housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness. These include:
- 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 improving access to education and increasing 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 unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness and 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 return people who experience homelessness to stable housing.
The HEARTH Act, enacted by Congress in May 2009, mandated that the USICH produce a "national strategic plan" to end homelessness and present the Plan to Congress and the President. Beginning in January 2010, USICH held regional stakeholder meetings, organized Federal working groups focused on specific populations, solicited public comment through an interactive website, and engaged experts from across the country to develop an action plan to solve homelessness for veterans, adults, families, youth, and children. The result of that mandate and engagement of all stakeholders is Opening Doors.
The issuance of the 2015 Amendment to Opening Doors represents the second time that the Plan has been amended since its original release in 2010. The Plan was first amended in 2012 to include additional information and strategies around youth homelessness, and those changes are incorporated into this document. The 2015 Amendment further updates the Plan in several areas. In large part due to a lack of Congressional support for the expansion of permanent supportive housing, we will not finish the job of ending chronic homelessness in 2015. The 2015 Amendment adjusts the timeline on that goal to 2017, but this timeline assumes that Congress will support the President’s FY 2016 Budget, which includes increased funding to support the new permanent supportive housing needed to end chronic homelessness. The 2015 Amendment includes content to support the retooling of homeless programs into crisis response systems. It clarifies the role of Medicaid in covering services that support housing stability, and emphasizes the strategic use of data.
In developing the 2015 Amendment, it was affirmed that Opening Doors is still the right plan, with the right goals and objectives. Changes to the Plan in 2015 reflect the progress we have made because of its implementation, further strengthening our strategies based on what we know works to end homelessness.