On 10/20/20, The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) unveiled its new strategic plan, Expanding the Toolbox: The Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness. The strategic plan emphasizes addressing the root causes of homelessness and prioritizing trauma-informed care to support the success of each individual and family experiencing homelessness. The plan also focuses on the importance of promoting self-sufficiency across federal agencies as a way of ending the cycle of homelessness and dependency.
“Over the past five years, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness has risen in spite of increased funding from the federal government,” said John Pallasch, USICH Chair and Assistant Secretary for Employment and training at the U.S. Department of Labor. “To make meaningful progress at addressing this, federal, state, and local governments must begin to break down barriers, and move away from the siloed and fractured paradigm that has come to define service delivery. Workforce development must work with housing and other essential partners to create a coordinated and consistent approach to service delivery—One Workforce. With today’s report, I hope this will serve as a blueprint to begin that process.”
The plan places great emphasis on transparency and accuracy in reporting the number of Americans who are experiencing homelessness. Unsheltered homelessness increased 20.5 percent from 175,399 in 2014 to 211,293 in 2019. The number of Americans truly experiencing homeless is often unclear because of artificial changes in definitions and reclassifications that purport temporal improvements.
Expanding the Toolbox makes clear that homelessness is on the rise and real reforms are needed. Policies that do not address the real root causes of homelessness combined with high housing costs in overregulated markets have exacerbated the homelessness condition in America.
“The status quo is not working, and homelessness is increasing across the board with many cities in crisis. Real change needs to occur to truly reduce homelessness,” said Dr. Robert Marbut, Jr. Executive Director of USICH.
This strategic plan focuses on:
- The importance and power of the dignity of work
- The importance of mental health and trauma-informed care
- Affordable construction to improve the stock of affordable housing
- Prevention as an avenue to reduce expense while reducing trauma
- The need for population-specific programming
- Renewed focus on racial disparities
- Promotion of alternatives to criminalizing people experiencing homelessness
- The importance of national emergency readiness
The strategic plan Expanding the Toolbox: The Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness