Annual Update 2011

One year has passed since the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and its 19 member agencies launched Opening Doors, the nation’s first-ever comprehensive strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, on June 22, 2010. Progress in implementing strategic plans has occurred across the United States—locally, in states, and here in the federal government. While it is too soon to tell the full impact of Opening Doors’ first year, evidence is emerging that local and state efforts supported by federal mainstream and targeted resources—when coupled with partnerships with the private and nonprofit sectors—have made a significant difference.

Over the last year, there has been unprecedented collaboration from federal agencies — with one another, and with state and local governments and nonprofits — in our efforts to implement the plan. The federal government is laying the groundwork for future successes through better collaboration, better data collection, better use of mainstream resources, and engagement of states and local communities in the Plan’s goals and strategies.

The bold and measurable goals in Opening Doors are meant to catalyze efforts to prevent and end homelessness. For the first time, the federal government is measuring progress against clear numerical targets. While it is too early to track the success of Opening Doors, the 2010 data that is included in this update provides a baseline going forward. These measures are critical to ensuring the federal government and its partners take accountable action toward ending homelessness.

As this update documents, there is an enormous amount of work happening at the federal level that contributes toward the vision of preventing and ending homelessness. This update provides an overview of the Council, Opening Doors, the latest information available on the number of people experiencing homelessness, the federal programs that provide assistance, and information on USICH and member agencies’ activities and accomplishments in the last year.

This update documents the progress during the first year of Plan implementation. Particularly noteworthy are the following:

  • Breaking down silos. Unprecedented collaboration and coordination across and within federal agencies have helped to ensure that resources are aligned with the Plan. This alignment improves both the efficiency and effectiveness of the use of government resources. Numerous examples of this coordination and collaboration are documented.
  • Better data collection, analysis, and reporting. Agencies within HHS and the VA are working with HUD to coordinate these efforts. Good data is essential to measuring what works, what doesn’t and what we need to do better. A concrete example is the issuance of the first Veterans supplement to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR).
  • Adoption of proven tools to prevent and end homelessness. For example, the VA has pushed a clear charge out to its medical centers, local providers, and partners to initiate community planning and adopt best practices such as Housing First and Critical Time Intervention.
  • Better use of targeted resources. The Recovery Act’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) has assisted more than 935,000 people, already three times more than projected with more than one year remaining. While this is significant, perhaps equally important is the fact that the program paved the way for a fundamental change in the way many communities respond to homelessness, moving from shelter-based programs to cost effective systems of prevention, diversion, and rapid re-housing.
  • Improved access of mainstream resources. Affordable Care Act implementation has served as a major focal point in the past year, with HHS playing a catalytic role in helping communities begin to prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead. With careful planning now, the implementation of Medicaid expansion can significantly increase access to health care for people experiencing homelessness.
  • Increased engagement with states and local communities. One example is the meaningful engagement of USICH and its federal partners with community stakeholders in Los Angeles to increase progress on ending chronic and Veterans homelessness.

Read the Update

The Appendix to the Annual Update includes information on federal programs that provide assistance, along with information on USICH and member agencies' activities and accomplishments in the last year.

Read the Appendix