This USICH guidance, available as a PDF, is intended to help communities facing a crisis of unsheltered homelessness.
Local decision-makers are caught between demands for swift action and the reality that permanent, sustainable solutions—housing with voluntary supportive services—take time and investment to bring to scale. Some communities have turned to aggressive law enforcement approaches that criminalize homelessness and close encampments without offering shelter or housing options. While these efforts may have the short-term effect of clearing an encampment from public view, without connection to adequate shelter, housing, and supportive services, encampments will appear again in another neighborhood or even in the same place they had previously been.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to encampments, but the following principles—developed by USICH in coordination with the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Justice (DOJ), and Veterans Affairs (VA); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and several national partners—can help communities more effectively address encampments:
- Principle 1: Establish a Cross-Agency, Multi-Sector Response
- Principle 2: Engage Encampment Residents to Develop Solutions
- Principle 3: Conduct Comprehensive and Coordinated Outreach
- Principle 4: Address Basic Needs and Provide Storage
- Principle 5: Ensure Access to Shelter or Housing Options
- Principle 6: Develop Pathways to Permanent Housing and Supports
- Principle 7: Create a Plan for What Will Happen to Encampment Sites After Closure