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Homelessness Resources: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

A research guide that presents the various organizations, print materials, and websites that may help the homeless.


At the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, we coordinate and catalyze the federal response to homelessness, working in close partnership with Cabinet Secretaries and other senior leaders across our 19 federal member agencies.

By organizing and supporting leaders such as Governors, Mayors, Continuum of Care leaders, and other local officials, we drive action to achieve the goals of the federal strategic plan to prevent and homelessness--and ensure that homelessness in America is ended once and for all.

Legislative Authority
USICH was originally authorized by Congress through Title II of the landmark Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 (PL 100-77) to serve as an “independent establishment” within the executive branch. We were charged with coordinating the federal response to homelessness and creating a national partnership at every level of government and with the private sector to reduce and end homelessness in the nation while maximizing the effectiveness of the federal government in contributing to the end of homelessness.
The agency was most recently reauthorized by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009.
From; accessed October 12, 2017.


USICH. GOV - Opening Doors

Opening Doors

The first comprehensive federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness was presented to Congress on June 22, 2010. We updated and amended the plan in 2012 and again in 2015 to reflect what we have learned.

We are in the process of gathering stakeholder input as we revise and strengthen the plan again this year. We expect a new update to be released in early 2018.

From; accessed October 12, 2017.


Strengthening the Plan

Opening Doors has helped drive significant national progress - but there is much more work ahead.

As we did in 2012 and 2015, we are currently gathering stakeholder input to revise and strengthen the federal strategic plan. You can review a summary of the goals, objectives, and strategies within the current plan in this Participation Guide.

We're emphasizing:

  • Building on what is working and leading to positive outcomes
  • Reflecting on what we are learning from evolving practices
  • Addressing areas in need of greater attention, including racial inequities and other disparities in the experience of and risk for homelessness
  • Aligning strategies with emerging federal, state, and local priorities

Some ways you've already told us the plan needs to be strengthened:

  • Putting people with lived experience more front and center
  • Increasing focus on employment services and outcomes
  • Doing more to translate solutions to rural and tribal communities
  • Strengthening pathways to housing for people living in encampments
  • Helping emergency shelters drive an end to homelessness using Housing First
  • Strengthening housing as a platform for recovery for people affected by substance use

From; accessed October 12, 2017.



Ending Veteran Homelessness
We know how to end homelessness among Veterans. Since 2014, more than 880 mayors, governors, and other state and local officials have answered the call of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, pledging to do all they can to ensure their communities succeed. And it’s working.

Essential Strategies

Our progress has been driven by urgent action at all levels of government and across all sectors. Federal agencies have engaged in unprecedented coordination and shared responsibility. Congress have expanded investments into federal programs, such as the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, which provide a range of housing and services interventions. State and local entities and the philanthropic community have aligned investments with federal resources. Communities have formed stronger partnerships to deploy those resources through best practices, including coordinated entry and Housing First approaches. And governors, mayors, and other public officials have mobilized their communities in support of a clear and ambitious goal.

From; accessed October 12, 2017.


Ending Chronic Homelessness

We can end homelessness for people in our communities with disabilities and other complex needs, including people who have the most extensive experiences of homelessness. As documented through the federal Criteria and Benchmarks, one community has already ended chronic homelessness, and many others are working toward achieving the goal.

Essential Strategies

To make sure all people with disabilities experiencing chronic homelessness are on a quick path to permanent housing—and that no one else becomes chronically homelessness—communities need robust, coordinated systems that are focused on the same shared outcomes. We have identified 10 essential strategies communities are using to drive progress toward ending chronic homelessness. We encourage stakeholders in every community to review these strategies and identify opportunities to strengthen their systems.

From; accessed October 12, 2017.
Ending Family Homelessness

The work to end family homelessness is a national priority for many reasons. Being in safe and stable housing benefits both parents and children for a lifetime, improving their overall well-being, health, education, and future employment opportunities—outcomes that strengthen our communities and our country as a whole.

Essential Strategies

To prevent families with children from experiencing homelessness, and to make sure that when families do experience homelessness they can quickly regain permanent housing, communities need robust, coordinated systems, focused on shared outcomes. Federal, state, and local action has focused on four key strategies.

In January 2017, USICH and our federal partners provided additional guidance to communities through the federal Criteria and Benchmarks for Achieving the Goal of Ending Family Homelessness. That document was updated in July 2017, after input from local and national stakeholders.

From; accessed October 12, 2017.


Ending Youth Homelessness

There has been an unprecedented increase in collaboration both among federal agencies and between the government and locally-driven efforts to end homelessness among unaccompanied youth under age 25.

Essential Strategies

To ensure that youth homelessness is prevented whenever possible, and that unaccompanied youth who do experience homelessness are on a quick path to safe, stable, and permanent housing, communities need to implement a robust, coordinated response focused on the shared outcomes of: stable housing; permanent connections; education/employment; and social and emotional well-being. Communities are using the vision described in Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness: A Coordinated Community Response to guide that work.

From; accessed October 12, 2017.


Setting a Path to End All Homelessness

To prevent and end homelessness for everyone, communities must have a comprehensive response in place to make sure all people experiencing a housing crisis get the help they need. That response must include both specialized homelessness services and mainstream resources — housing, employment, education, health care, and benefits — that can help people achieve housing stability and go on to realize their personal goals.

Our Priorities

The Council is helping communities reach this goal by prioritizing:

  • The development of coordinated entry systems to link families and individuals to the most appropriate assistance they need to prevent and end homelessness.
  • Collaboration to leverage and integrate mainstream resources in the areas of housing, employment, education, health care, and benefits.
  • Increasing the amount of rental housing that is affordable to people with the lowest incomes, including the families with children and people with disabilities with incomes far below the federal poverty level.

For these efforts to have the greatest impact, we are also focused on implementing strategies that address larger structural challenges:

  • The criminalization of homelessness and the racially disparate impact of policies and practices within our criminal justice systems.
  • Barriers to accessing housing and culturally relevant services among American Indians and Alaska Natives living both on and off tribal lands.

From; accessed October 13, 2017.



USICH.GOV - Solutions

Collaborative Leadership

Recognizing that the solutions to homelessness cut across federal, state, and local jurisdictions, we need to build a robust interagency, cross-sector approach to preventing and ending homelessness.

The Solution

To achieve our national goals, leaders from all levels of government and the private, non-profit, and faith sectors need to come together to:

Build momentum behind a common vision: Through regional, state, and local interagency working groups and other processes that coordinate and align activities, policies, and priorities, we can pursue shared strategies and definitions of success. These collaborative, outcome-driven processes should be driven by our national definition of what an end to homelessness means, and criteria and benchmarks for achieving that goal among Veterans, families with children, unaccompanied youth, and people with disabilities.

Reduce fragmentation and duplication: Leadership working in concert can bring together areas of government that have typically operated in silos to reduce duplicative or contradictory activities and ensure the most effective use of public resources. Rolling out the evidence-based Housing First approach across communities, for example, has helped serve more people with better results. 

Drive implementation of cost-effective solutions: Coalitions of local leaders can use data and performance measurement to guide investments into evidence-informed practices that efficiently solve homelessness. For example, rapid re-housing is a lower cost promising practice being deployed in communities across the country to get families quickly back into stable housing so that they can pursue their income and employment goals.

From; accessed October 13, 2017.