In 2010, the Obama administration released Opening Doors, the nation’s first‐ever comprehensive strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness among all populations.
Opening Doors was a roadmap for joint action by the 19 US Interagency Council on Homelessness member agencies with four key goals:
- Finish the job of ending chronic homelessness in five years
- Prevent and end homelessness among veterans in five years
- Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth and children in 10 years
- Set a path to ending all types of homelessness
Shaun Donovan, Director of Office of Management & Budget (and previous secretary of Housing & Urban Development) spoke to the National Conference to End Homelessness this week about the important accomplishments in reducing homelessness during the Obama administration. He also addressed the challenges of making more progress in DC.
Donovan said that in the face of a highly partisan and gridlocked Congress, the work of ending homelessness necessitates “speaking truth to the powerful on behalf of those who have little power.”
The Seattle-King County delegation continued to meet with Washington State’s congressional delegation, including meetings with staff from: Senator Patty Murray, Rep. Dave Reichert, Rep. Adam Smith and Rep. Rick Larsen.
The policy directors and staff were all knowledgeable and engaged on issues of homelessness, affordable housing, and mental health. I continued to speak to Solid Ground’s role of providing housing for formerly homeless people and our prevention, diversion and rapid rehousing efforts to stabilize people at risk of homelessness.
I advocated for increased funding to McKinney-Vento (support services), expanded Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and for approval of the pending Medicaid Section 1115 waiver, which would enable Medicaid dollars to pay for supportive housing services.
Several of us had a realization that the National Conference is insufficient in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in homelessness and housing instability. As race is a root cause of poverty and homelessness, we hope that future Conferences can include more perspective from people in affected communities speaking to their lived experience.