Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH), introduced the Working Together to End Homelessness Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation to repeal the sunset date for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
“It is shameful that there are over 550,000 people experiencing homelessness in this country, including seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and families with children,” said Ranking Member Waters. “The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) plays a critical role in addressing this national crisis and has a far-reaching impact as it coordinates with every level of government, and communities across the nation, to work toward ending homelessness. I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this commonsense bill that will make USICH permanent and allow it to continue its important work. Currently, the law says USICH will have to shutter its doors if Congress doesn’t act to extend its authority each year. Ending homelessness in this country should be a top priority for Congress, as every American deserves a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.”
“Ending homelessness is a national priority that both sides of the aisle support,” said Representative Royce. “However, history has shown us that increasing federal dollars alone is not enough to solve this complex issue. USICH has demonstrated a successful track record of decreasing homelessness by coordinating across all levels of government, as well as with private sector partners, in order to maximize the impact of federal resources. This approach is an effective and efficient solution proven to help lift millions of Americans out of homelessness.”
“Homelessness is not a Republican or Democratic issue,” said Representative Beatty. “That is why I am honored to join a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in introducing the Working Together to End Homelessness Act of 2018. Together, we can ensure more Americans and families have a place to call ‘home sweet home.”
“We need to address homelessness in all populations, especially for all those who wore a uniform and our children. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) has made progress, but there is still work to be done,” Representative Stivers said. “This bill ensures the USICH will have the authority to continue working to end homelessness in our country. I am proud to work with Representatives Royce, Waters, and Beatty on this legislation.”
USICH, which Congress created in 1987, serves as an independent body that coordinates the federal response to homelessness. After Congress passed the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act in 2009, USICH put forward the Opening Doors strategy, the first-ever Federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. USICH has made significant strides towards ending homelessness in this country, including overall declines in chronic homelessness by 18%, veteran homelessness by 46%, and family homelessness by 24% between 2010 to 2017.
A 2014 Government Accountability Office report entitled “Managing for Results: Implementation Approaches Used to Enhance collaboration in Interagency Groups,” highlighted the effectiveness of USICH in implementing collaborative interagency efforts to leverage data sources, establish performance metrics, and to track and report progress in a transparent manner. The Urban Institute also published a report in October 2016, entitled “How Would Terminating USICH Affect Efforts to End Homelessness?” which found that after interviewing more than 40 federal and local stakeholders across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, there was an overwhelming consensus that USICH played an important role in a highly effective performance-driven partnership, and that terminating USICH could slow down efforts to end homelessness.
In 2017, Ranking Member Waters reintroduced the Ending Homelessness Act, groundbreaking legislation that would provide $13.27 billion in new funding over five years to federal programs and initiatives that will help the over 550,000 Americans who are currently homeless. The bill also preserves USICH.