The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) held its quarterly meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness as well as joint strategies to end Veteran homelessness.
The council unanimously voted to set a bold national vision for the next federal strategic plan, with a milestone(s) that’s measurable and achievable by the end of 2024. It also approved strategies to operationalize the joint statement to end Veteran homelessness from the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA).
The meeting was led by Council Chair Marcia Fudge, the HUD secretary, and Council Vice Chair Denis McDonough, the VA secretary. It was attended by representatives of our 19 federal member agencies as well as Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to President Biden and the White House’s American Rescue Plan coordinator.
Federal Strategic Plan
USICH started collecting feedback for the federal strategic plan—online and in listening sessions—last month from people who have experienced homelessness, people who are part of the response to homelessness, and people who have a vested interest in ending homelessness. The comment period is open through the end of November.
In the decade after USICH released the first federal strategic plan, homelessness dropped 9%—nearly 50% among Veterans and 30% among families. Unfortunately, much of that progress stalled in the last few years.
Homelessness has been on the rise since 2016, and some troubling trends have emerged. For the first time since the U.S. started collecting this data, more homeless individuals were living on the streets and in cars than in shelters and other temporary housing. Even more troubling, this data was captured in January 2020—before the COVID-19 pandemic—and every year, nearly 1 million people experience homelessness for the first time.
But pandemic relief legislation, including the American Rescue Plan and the CARES Act, can rehouse more people than ever before—up to 211,000 households. The federal strategic plan will help communities maximize these historic resources.
Significant progress has been made toward ending Veteran homelessness, but on a single night in early 2020, there were still 37,249 Veterans living without a permanent home. This past April, HUD Secretary Fudge and VA Secretary McDonough affirmed their commitment to finish the job of ending Veteran homelessness through a whole-of-government response.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the council approved strategies to end Veteran homelessness and agreed to commit to specific agency actions to achieve that goal.
Vice Chair McDonough also noted his recent commitment to rehouse more than 500 Veterans in Los Angeles by the end of this year, including every Veteran living in the encampment outside West Los Angeles VA Medical Center by this November.
The next council meeting will take place in early 2022.