Solis and Sebelius lead charge to end homelessness
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today was elected by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness to lead federal efforts to end homelessness. As chair of USICH, Secretary Solis joins the newly elected vice chair, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in implementing Opening Doors, the first federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. Solis succeeds Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who has been chair since 2009.
The council is made up of 19 agencies from the federal government which, along with state and local partners, are tasked with implementing Opening Doors. This strategic planis the most far-reaching and ambitious in U.S. history to end all types of homelessness, including ending chronic homelessness and homelessness among veterans in five years, while ending homelessness for families, youth and children within a decade.
The Department of Labor played an integral role in the development of Opening Doors, and is leading the efforts to increase sustainable employment and create meaningful careers for the nation's most vulnerable populations.
"Ending the continuing tragedy of homelessness demands thoughtful and focused efforts," said Secretary Solis. "I look forward to building upon Secretary Donovan's leadership of the council to promote the importance of interagency collaboration as we implement Opening Doors. The bottom line is that the best defense against homelessness is a job that pays. That is why the Department of Labor is leading efforts to prevent and end homelessness with job training and employment services for this underserved population."
The mission of the USICH is to coordinate the federal response to homelessness, and to create a national partnership with every level of government and the private sector to address homelessness in the nation.
The Obama administration has been committed to preventing and ending homelessness both in funding and in coordinating federal government efforts to address the issue. The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has prevented or ended homelessness for 750,000 people since 2009. The Affordable Care Act is providing new and more effective methods for targeting the uninsured, including chronically homeless individuals, families and children who experience homelessness. In addition, as part of the effort to end homelessness among the nation's veterans, the Department of Veterans' Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have provided permanent housing to more than 20,000 veterans and families through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program with an additional 10,000 being housed in the next year. Also, the Labor Department is providing job training and employment services to more than 15,000 veterans who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
"Together this coalition has proven that homelessness isn't simply a noble fight, but a problem we can solve," said Secretary Donovan. "As the outgoing chairman of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, I'd like to acknowledge my extraordinary colleagues, Secretary Solis of the Department of Labor and Secretary Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services -- as well as the great work of both Secretary Shinseki at the Department of Veterans Affairs and USICH Executive Director Barbara Poppe. With their leadership, I am confident that we will continue to work strategically and effectively to serve all people at risk of homelessness in this country."