Washington – The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), along with its 19 member agencies, announced today the release of an amendment to Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
Originally released on this day in 2010, Opening Doors is the nation’s first comprehensive Federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. The Plan provides a roadmap for coordinated, joint action among the 19 USICH member agencies in conjunction with local and state partners.
Since the launch of Opening Doors five years ago, the trajectory of homelessness in America has changed dramatically. According to the 2014 Point-in-Time count, overall homelessness has declined nationwide by 10 percent since 2010. Homelessness among families with children has decreased 15 percent. The number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness has fallen by 21 percent, and homelessness among Veterans has fallen by 33 percent. We also have more knowledge than ever about the unique circumstances facing youth experiencing homelessness.
This progress demonstrates that Opening Doors is the right plan with the right strategies for ending homelessness. The amendment reaffirms the core elements of the original Plan and adds new strategies that reflect lessons learned since 2010, ensuring that Opening Doors serves as a living blueprint with the latest knowledge and best practices to prevent and end homelessness.
“We’re releasing this Amendment at a critical moment for the country, as the time to act is now to achieve all the goals of Opening Doors,” stated USICH Executive Director Matthew Doherty. “We know that homelessness is a problem we can solve. By working together we will ensure that homelessness does not appear in the pages of American history as a permanent fixture, but as a problem the American people overcame.”
“Finding housing for people experiencing homelessness and giving them the tools they need to get back on their feet requires collaboration and an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor and Chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Using Opening Doors as a blueprint, we have worked together to reduce homelessness among all populations. The updated Plan will allow us to continue to make progress toward our ambitious goal of ending homelessness across our country.”
Key new elements added to Opening Doors through this amendment include an operational definition for an end to homelessness, clarifications regarding the role of Medicaid in financing services for permanent supportive housing, an updated discussion of the use of metrics and accountability, improved guidance for retooling crisis response systems, and an incorporation of changes made in a 2012 amendment.
This Amendment also adjusts the goal of ending chronic homelessness from 2015 to 2017. The change reflects the need for additional resources to achieve the goal nationally, although there are states and communities who can achieve the goal ahead of 2017 if they continue to act with urgency and use existing resources in support of the most effective practices.
As amended, Opening Doors sets, and remains focused on, four key goals:
Prevent and end homelessness among Veterans in 2015
Finish the job of ending chronic homelessness in 2017
Prevent and end homelessness among families, youth, and children in 2020
Set a path to ending all type of homelessness.
The most significant changes include:
-The inclusion of an operational definition for an end to homelessness;
-Updating the timing of the goal of ending chronic homelessness from 2015 to 2017, which reflects the need for additional resources to achieve this goal nationally;
-Clarifying the role of Medicaid in financing services in permanent supportive housing, including the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on Medicaid expansion as a state decision;
-Providing clearer guidance and adding new strategies to support the retooling of homelessness programs into effective crisis response systems; and
-Adding emphasis on the uses of data in decision-making and performance management to prevent and end homelessness.
The full version of Opening Doors, as amended in 2015, can be found HERE
USICH and the 19 member agencies of the Council remain fully committed to implementation of the Plan. We look forward to continuing to work toward making our vision of an end to homelessness across all populations a reality.