A Summary of the Federal Plan to End Homelessness
Recently, the federal government released All In: The Federal Strategic to Prevent and End Homelessness, a comprehensive plan to reduce homelessness by 25 percent by January 2025. We want to take a quick look at the plan’s main points and how they align with our work.
Who Created the Plan?
The phrase “All In” evokes extensive collaboration between government bodies and others. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)’s members include 19 federal agencies: AmeriCorps, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Department of Education (Education), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Interior (Interior), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Social Security Administration (SSA), the U.S. Postal Office (USPS), and the White House Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (FBNP). Significantly, the planning process also included “thousands of leaders, providers, and advocates, and hundreds of people with lived experience” of homelessness.
How Does the Plan Understand Homelessness?
All In describes how “homelessness in America has been rising” since 2016. It attributes the recent growth to:
decades of growing economic inequality exacerbated by a global pandemic, soaring housing costs, and housing supply shortfalls. It is further exacerbated by inequitable access to health care, including mental health and/or substance use disorder treatment; discrimination and exclusion of people of color, LGBTQI+ people, people with disabilities and older adults; as well as the consequences of mass incarceration.
We see this among our clients. Many are people of color (including 44 percent, or 946, Black/African American people and 21 percent, or 452, Latinx people). Forty-three percent (925) had at least one disability, including 31 percent (667) with a mental health condition, 28 percent (602) with a developmental or physical disability, 5 percent (108) with alcohol use, 3 percent (65) with drug use, and 2 percent (43) with concurrent alcohol and drug use.
How Does the Plan Approach Solutions to Homelessness?
The plan rests on three “foundational pillars”—principles and strategies that guide how the government will address homelessness. These include
- Lead With Equity: The plan addresses racial inequities, which underlie homelessness and housing insecurity. Its strategies include “promote equity and equitable outcomes,” “promot[ing] inclusive decision-making,” “increas[ing] access to federal housing and homelessness funding for American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” and revising “policies and practices that may have created and perpetuated racial and other disparities.”
- Use Data and Evidence to Make Decisions: The plan develops solutions to homelessness based on research and empirically tested service and program models. Strategies include “strengthen[ing]... capacity to use data and evidence to inform federal policy,” “strengthen[ing] the capacity of state and local governments, territories, tribes, Native-serving organizations operating off tribal lands, and nonprofits to collect, report, and use data,” and “creat[ing] opportunities for innovation and research.”
- Collaborate At All Levels: The plan fosters collaboration between federal, state, local, and tribal governments; nonprofit organizations; philanthropies; and the private sector. Strategies include “promot[ing] collaborative leadership at all levels of government” and “improv[ing] information-sharing with public and private organizations.”
These principles are central to our work in Southwest Suburban Cook County. BEDS is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in its programs and hiring practices. We have adopted the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Housing First approach to homelessness, which emphasizes evidence-based services and data-driven program evaluation. BEDS collaborates with community healthcare, behavioral healthcare, and human service providers; education and childcare services; municipal entities; employers; and other resources.
How Does the Plan Solve Homelessness?
The plan also includes three solution pillars that outline the government response to homelessness. Each includes a range of strategies, which are quoted below:
- Scale Housing and Support That Meet Demand
- “Maximize the use of existing federal housing assistance”
- “Expand engagement, resources, and incentives for the creation of new...housing”
- “Increase the supply and impact of permanent supportive housing for [people] with complex service needs”
- “Improve effectiveness of rapid rehousing”
- “Support enforcement of fair housing”
- “Strengthen system capacity to address the needs of people with disabilities and chronic health conditions”
- “Maximize current resources that can provide voluntary and trauma-informed supportive services”
- “Increase the use of practices grounded in evidence”
- Improve Effectiveness of Homelessness Response Systems
- “Spearhead an all-of-government effort to end unsheltered homelessness”
- “Evaluate coordinated entry”
- “Increase availability of and access to emergency shelter”
- “Solidify the relationship between CoCs, public health agencies, and emergency management agencies”
- “Expand the use of ‘housing problem solving’ approaches”
- “Remove and reduce programmatic, regulatory, and other barriers”
- Prevent Homelessness
- “Reduce housing instability for households most at risk of experiencing homelessness”
- “Reduce housing instability for [justice involved] families, youth, and single adults”
- “Reduce housing instability among older adults and people with disabilities”
- “Reduce housing instability for veterans”
- “Reduce housing instability for American Indian and Alaska Native communities”
- “Reduce housing instability among youth and young adults”
- “Reduce housing instability among survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence, including family and intimate partner violence”
We incorporate these strategies into our work. BEDS develops and implements services and programs based on affordable housing and supportive service needs in its communities. We are an original member of the Suburban Cook County Continuum of Care, the government organization that funds and coordinates homeless services in the area, participate in Entry Point, its Coordinated Entry portal; and collaborate with its other members to provide housing and supportive services. Our Stabilization Services include Homelessness Prevention, Diversion, and Short-Term Stabilization programs that help vulnerable populations remain in housing.
How Does the Plan Affect Our Work?
All In will guide the government funding and policies that shape our work over the next several years. We’ve seen significant growth in government funding, programs, and clients served over the past several years, and we’re excited to see what opportunities come out of the plan.
Written by BEDS Plus Staff member: Grant Suhs