First Impressions: The New Federal Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness


The US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) delivered the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness to President Obama and Congress yesterday. It’s entitled Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness 2010.

A groundbreaking strategy is sorely needed to address the pervasive issue of homelessness. USICH’s has achieved a measure of success by simply securing agreement to the Federal Strategic Plan (FSP) from its 19 member agencies. The Federal Strategic Plan (FSP) is the result of a Congressional initiative, a byproduct of the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH ACT).

The Federal Strategic Plan’s vision is laudable: no one should experience homelessness and no one should be without a safe place to call home. And, encouragingly, it has support from the top. President Obama, in his letter accepting the plan, declared that “ending homelessness in America must be a national priority.” The FSP gives the nation a framework to help it  understand contemporary domestic homelessness. FSP also suggests a direction and a set of general strategies that, when put into operation, may indeed contribute to preventing and ending homelessness.

While the Federal Strategic Plan is groundbreaking, however, the National Coalition for the Homeless suggests that some of the strategies outlined are vague and lack a firm commitment to allocate funds to implement many of the strategies. To address homelessness as a national priority will take more discussion…and action.

“The Federal Strategic Plan must hold itself to the same standard that it holds local communities: clear numeric goals, timetables, and identify funding and implementing bodies to ensure they move from planning to action” said Neil Donovan, the Executive Director of NCH.

NCH gave a particularly favorable mention of the consultation USICH did as it developed the FSP. For example, USICH gave people experiencing homelessness and people who recently experienced homelessness substantive roles in the plan’s development and included them in the implementation strategy.

Our commitment at HMHI is to address the issue of single-parent families who experience homelessness. We help them each individually, recognizing that each family brings its own assets and needs to their experience. We realize that our efforts will only be augmented by a national commitment to reverse the rising numbers of people without homes in this nation.

Dauntlessly, we continue to do the work we have been doing for twenty years.

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