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Statement on the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness’ Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness 

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December 20, 2022, Washington, D.C. – The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) expresses its enthusiastic support for the newly-released U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) report, All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

NCH has long believed that ending homelessness requires a strong coordinated effort by the US Federal government, as well as the USICH. Being led and governed by those with previous experience of homelessness, we appreciate the USICH’s emphasis on genuine partnerships with people experiencing homelessness, as well as the need to address structural racism.

We believe the initiatives outlined in All In will provide the administration a springboard for more robust condemnation of the efforts to make homelessness illegal, along with clear refocusing on the affordable housing crisis in the United States. It is past time that we focus anti-poverty efforts and solutions to homelessness on structural change instead of perceived individual failures.

USICH is the only federal agency with the sole mission of preventing and ending homelessness in America. It coordinates with 19 federal member agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector to create partnerships, use resources in the most efficient and effective ways, and implement evidence-based best practices.

Donald Whitehead, Executive Director of NCH, said, “the federal government must ensure that all citizens have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is the belief of the National Coalition that housing must be included in the fundamental rights for those living in the richest country in the history of the world.”

All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness is a well-designed strategic, measurable and inclusive plan that restores the true role of the USICH to that of a leader in federal policy to end homeless. “Homelessness is solvable. We believe that the Federal Strategic plan provides a roadmap to realize the end to homelessness that motivated our founders, including Michael Stoops, buddy grey and Mitch Snyder” said Donald Whitehead.

Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, President of the National Coalition for the Homeless Board and Professor and Distinguished Chair of Social Justice Education at Stetson University stated, “The USICH Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness provides a strong start to ending this humanitarian crisis. Housing is a human right. To live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world with millions of individuals, families, children and youth without housing is unacceptable. People with lived experience and expertise must be part of creating solutions. Racial equity and intersectionality must be intentionally prioritized, particularly given persistent and growing disparities — racial, ethnic, gender, LGBTQIA+, disabilities, and historically and socially marginalized communities in the U.S.. We are long overdue to be all in and to genuinely advance housing justice.”

“NCH and the Bring America Home Now Campaign strongly support Housing as a Human Right and it is critical that people that have experienced housing crises are at decision making tables in designing and implementing the responses that meet their needs and wants. To implement this plan we need the equity in resources we provide to homeowners and people’s housing needs at 30% median income and below. (Homeowners receive at least 4x’s the subsidy as people with  lowest income in our country),” added Sue Watlov Phillips, NCH Policy Committee Chair and Executive Director of MICAH (Minnesota).

The National Coalition is the oldest national advocacy organization around homelessness and is pleased to see a plan that focuses on data driven solutions and moves away from the disastrous policy promoted by the previous administration.


Jeff Olivet has been named as the New Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

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The National Coalition for the Homeless enthusiastically supports the appointment of Jeff Olivet as the New Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).

We at NCH always aim to amplify the voices of people with lived experience of homelessness, and Jeff’s tireless advocacy to bridge racial disparities and end homelessness are nothing short of extraordinary, and we are elated that Jeff was appointed this position as USICH Executive Director. We strongly believe that Jeff will use his position to develop a partnership with the advocacy community and those with lived experience homeless in our country.

Jeff has worked in the field of homelessness services in various capacities, and has proven a powerful advocate in each. His experience in outreach and executive levels give him the extensive background he needs to be successful in his new role.

Jeff Olivet, now Director of the UISCH, with NCH Director Donald Whitehead and colleague Kavita Singh Gilchrist

Jeff’s work with NCH’s Bring America Home Now (BAHN) campaign and Lived Experience Training Academy (LETA) has brought irreplaceable knowledge and value to the progression of each. His knowledge of the lived experience is critical to effective advocacy in the movement to end homelessness.

Here are some words from Olivet that exemplify his character and passion for the work:

I believe down to my core that we can end homelessness in America if we come together to scale what is working, eliminate racial disparities, lift the voices of those who have experienced homelessness, and work across sectors to create meaningful upstream solutions,” said Olivet. “I am deeply grateful to Secretary Fudge, Secretary McDonough, the members of the council, and the president for the trust they have placed in me. I look forward to working across the entire federal government and with national, state, and local partners to redouble our commitment to the vision of an America where no one has to experience homelessness.

-Jeff Olivet, USICH Press release

As the fight to end homelessness pushes on, NCH will miss Jeff’s powerful advocacy with the Bring America Home Now campaign, but wish him nothing but success, and look forward to the value and change he will continue to add to the movement as ED of the USICH. 

“I am very excited by the appointment of Jeff Olivet as Executive Director of the Interagency Council.  Jeff’s appointment speaks to the administration’s commitment to the core values of peer involvement and centering racial equity”. said Donald Whitehead,  Executive Director of NCH.

The USICH spent much of 2021 soliciting feedback from the country about the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. Click here to see what they heard from folks like you!

How can the Federal government plan to End Homelessness?

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The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness announced in June that it would be working to update the coordinated Federal plan to end homelessness. Comments were solicited via the USICH website, though now, all mention of this comment process have been removed.

Below are the concerns and comments that the National Coalition for the Homeless shared:

NCH Comments on the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness
Submitted to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness July 2020

Thank you for your efforts to revise the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, and to gather comments from stakeholders. However, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) is concerned that the US Interagency Council on Homelessness is not soliciting input from a broad enough audience, nor in a transparent process that includes people who have experienced homelessness as key drafters. 

After nearly four decades of advocacy on behalf of those experiencing homelessness, NCH believes that any further Federal Strategic Plans to End Homelessness must be made in direct partnership with people who lived the experience of homelessness. The true experts, people with this “lived experience” of homelessness know first hand the effects of Federal policy and as such, can hone in on what changes can be made to achieve the goal of ending mass homelessness in the United States. 

Further, any Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness must:

  1. Have clear and quantifiable goals, objectives and action steps. The plan should include a timeline, parties responsible for implementation, and a description of funding needs and sources. 
  2. State that housing is a civil and human right, as a safe, stable home is the foundation for human development, student achievement, economic survival and community health. 
  3. Identify the systemic causes of homelessness, including structural racism, redlining, and other disinvestment in black and brown communities. The plan and its objectives should be written with a clear equity lens. 
  4. Affirm that any efforts to criminalize people, or the daily survival acts of people, who live outdoors – things like urban camping bans, food sharing restrictions, and limits on when and where people can sit or lie down – are counter-productive, cause trauma, and should be halted or reversed in city code.

If you were to propose one new initiative that the federal government is not doing now what would it be?

  • Fund Permanent Supportive Housing from the Housing Choice/Section 8 Program (with program changes that provide flexibility for criminal/credit/tenant issues)   
  • Do not dismantle COVID-19  response networks, maintain the CDC guidelines for encampments including access to sanitation and water  
  • Decisions and priorities on use of funds should be locally driven not HUD driven 
  • Return to funding transitional housing, both in scattered sites and through rental assistance 

Outside of prior USICH federal strategic plan focuses, what else might the federal government do to prevent and/or reduce homelessness?

  • Increase workforce development programs that train people experiencing homelessness as Peer Advocates to supplement the current homeless provider workforce. 
  • Listen to people who have/are experiencing homelessness and include at decision making tables on types of programs that work. 
  • Equity in funds – ensure tax credits, bonding, appropriations, etc. reserve funding for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness and rental housing at below 30% of median income
  • Strengthen the interagency coordination of resources for livable incomes and employment (both FT and part time/contracted/gig/piece work and migrant/day labor) and public assistance including unemployment, SSI and Social Security.  
  • Universal Health Care/Immediate and voluntary access to medical services for all individuals, youth, families experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness.
  • A guaranteed opportunity for permanent housing that is affordable at their income for all individuals, youth, families experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness.

What is one activity the federal government is doing that you believe should be deprioritized?

  • Coordinated entry – Implementation is inconsistent and costing millions in HUD TA, and systems often lead to discriminatory and unethical service delivery
  • Point in Time count – It is archaic and an inaccurate system- does not count people in programs where most of the homeless funding is going to: permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing
  • HMIS –violates Data Privacy, HIPPA laws
  • HUD controlled process of how funds should be used by communities
  • HUD’s homeless definition -utilize one homeless definition (the Department of Education’s definition or similar) across all agencies.

What is one activity that the federal government is doing well and that should be prioritized? 

  • The Youth Advisory Boards Model should be implemented in the Adult population. People who have/are experiencing homelessness need to be voting decision making members of the Federal and all State Interagency Councils and at CoC level and funded agencies.
  • The Veteran model that includes dedicated vouchers (VASH), Transitional Housing, workforce development (HVRP, CWF), Healthcare to scale and prevention (SSVF) should be mirrored that can be accomplished with substantial increases for targeted homeless programs through HHS and DOL.

Overall, what would you say the top 3 federal priorities should be as they relate to preventing and ending homelessness?

  • Listen to people who have/are experiencing homelessness. Decisions and priorities on use of funds should be locally driven with people who have/are experiencing homelessness not HUD driven. 
  • HUD programmatic changes: Funding Permanent Supportive Housing from the Housing Choice/Section 8 Program (with program changes that provide flexibility for criminal/credit/tenant issues), Rapid Re-Housing must include a livable income component to be able to pay rent after subsidy ends (employment and /or public assistance access/ housing assistance)
  • Creating a Unified definition of homelessness across federal agencies and Immediate and voluntary  access to emergency housing/shelter for all individuals, youth, families experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness.

In terms of homelessness, what areas are in need of greater attention at the federal, state, and local levels?

  • Affirm the Right to Housing and protection of the civil rights of people experiencing homelessness. 
  • Listen to people who have/are experiencing homelessness and include at decision making tables on types of programs that work. 
  • Fund Expanding Affordable Housing Stock to Pre-1970 Levels.
  • Expand and fund the use of innovative housing approaches: Tiny Homes, Shared Housing, Small Market FMR’s, Community Choice in Service Delivery, homeownership, scattered site/rent subsidy transitional housing
  • Expand homeless prevention to include eviction protection, a right to counsel, and cash assistance 
  • Universal Health Care
  • Expand fair housing protections to prevent rental redlining and source of income discrimination.
  • Coordination and placement into housing opportunities that are affordable for people being discharged from correctional/ mental health/chemical health/physical health/etc. institutions.

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