On March 28, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation (S.743) to strengthen the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (the Council). Created by Congress in 1987, the Council is the only federal level agency specifically tasked with coordinating the federal response to homelessness. Since its creation, the body has grown to include 19 Cabinet secretaries and agency heads.
Unfortunately, the Council was last authorized by Public Law 113-325 and sunsets at the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The Council would have to close its doors on October 1, 2017 and the Reed-Collins bill would eliminate the sunset date so that this agency can continue to build on its success in helping to prevent and end homelessness across the nation.
“The Council works with government, public housing agencies, homeless service providers, and local partners to better align their resources, efforts, goals, and measures of success. The progress we are making is encouraging, but it is not irreversible and now is not the time to end this effective, evidenced-based program that has helped leverage federal investments and measurably reduced homelessness in America,” said Senator Reed. “In our current budgetary environment…[t]he Council is proof that the government can work and save money in the process”
“As the Chairman of the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue working to ensure that homeless programs have the data and the resources to reduce and prevent homelessness,” said Senator Collins.
In 2010 the Council unveiled Opening Doors, a federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, through set goals, best practices, and policy priorities. Since then, HUD has reported a 14 percent decrease in overall homelessness in the nation, including a 47 percent decline in veterans’ homelessness.
NAHRO believes that the Council has been instrumental in bringing down homelessness rates and joins a strong and diverse coalition of non-profit and housing organizations in support of the Reed-Collins bill.