Article: Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness in the U.S.

A report by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) states that despite significant increases in funding and beds, overall homelessness has been increasing in the U.S. In just five years (2014-2019), unsheltered homelessness increased by 20.5%, and has become a national crisis.

In 2020, Congress appropriated over $6.6 billion for targeted homelessness assistance programs. These funds are separate from the over $4 billion allocated to address homelessness related to COVID-19. Federal funding for targeted homelessness assistance has increased every year in the last decade so that funding is now 200% more than the total allocated a decade ago.

This report outlines the successes and limitation of policies the federal government has pursued to end homelessness and offers a strategic view for implementing an outcomes- driven and compassionate response. It offers eight customized solutions that it asserts will produce better outcomes:

  1. The Importance and Power of the Dignity of Work
  2. Mental Health and Trauma Informed Care are Critical
  3. Affordable Construction Leads to Affordable Housing
  4. Prevention Will Save Money While Reducing Trauma
  5. The Need for Population Specific Programming
  6. Renewed Focus on Racial Disparities
  7. Promote Alternatives to Criminalizing People Experiencing Homelessness
  8. Importance of National Emergency Readiness

The report concludes that goals to eliminate homelessness must address the real root causes and move beyond primarily providing subsidized housing assistance only. Solutions must offer families and individuals experiencing homelessness a trauma-informed approach that flexibly meets their unique needs. Homelessness will be eradicated only if robust, coordinated, and with the support of federal partners.

View the full report