October 19, 2020, Washington, D.C. – Ten national organizations, representing advocates and leaders in national efforts to end homelessness, released the following statement:
Today, the Trump administration’s United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) released a document that purports to lay out a plan to address homelessness.
This is a plan in name only. It does not contain the interventions proven to reduce and end homelessness, which have been embraced by administrations on both sides of the aisle. The vast majority of what has been proposed cannot be implemented by the agency. The document continues to leverage data that has been widely disproven by experts.
The White House — by putting forth such an ineffective and dishonest document — fails to take seriously the grave dangers facing our neighbors and country today. Homelessness has always been a matter of life and death for those experiencing it. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness has become a deadlier threat to the most vulnerable people in our communities, and an imminent risk to millions of Americans. Studies estimate that millions may soon face eviction or become homeless.
This report only adds to a history of actions by the administration that fail to reduce or end homelessness across our country, and instead advances harm that disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. Examples include:
- Despite mentioning racial equity in the report, releasing an Executive Order banning federal contractors from hosting trainings on racial equity
- Lack of leadership on another comprehensive stimulus bill, as millions of Americans remain out of work and find themselves at risk of eviction
- Allowing shelters to discriminate against transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people experiencing homelessness by removing critical gender identity protections from HUD’s Equal Access rule
- Removing protections against housing discrimination and segregation, by dismantling the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule
- Eliminating federal programs that provide affordable homes to the people at the greatest risk, by slashing funding for HUD programs by up to 18% in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 budget requests
- Forcing mixed-status immigrant families to separate or face eviction through a proposed rule related to the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980
- Attempting to divert significant VA funding away from permanent supportive housing for the most vulnerable veterans experiencing homelessness
- Addressing people experiencing homelessness as a “disgrace” that hurts the “prestige” of cities and threatening to raze encampments
We know the nation can do better on homelessness because the nation has done better on homelessness. In the past 15 years, the nation has achieved periods of sustained and dramatic progress. During this time, federal leaders aligned around data and evidence on what worked, and targeted policies and investments to support the needs of communities.
Lives of our neighbors and the values of our country are at stake. Homelessness reflects the racism, discrimination, and inequity that hurts our neighbors and our nation — and our unrealized potential to build a stronger country. If the nation is ready to recognize and reconcile its ongoing crisis of racial inequity, then the nation must also become ready to end homelessness.
We can build a future where everyone in our country has a fair and equal opportunity, which begins with a place to call home. Communities have proven what is possible, and we all have a responsibility to support this reality. This path forward requires serious federal leadership that believes in that future and can develop a meaningful plan to support it.
- A Way Home America
- Community Solutions
- Funders Together to End Homelessness
- Heartland Alliance
- National Alliance to End Homelessness
- National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
- National Homelessness Law Center
- National Innovation Service
- National Low Income Housing Coalition
- True Colors United
By Amelia Nawn (Graduate Student Intern) and Carrie Felton (NCEH Project Manager)
Our work in communities tells us—and research confirms—that people experiencing homelessness need to, want to, can, and do work. Despite this reality, far too few people experiencing homelessness are being connected to employment and income supports needed for housing stability.
Grounded in our belief that public systems must support all unstably housed people in obtaining employment and the income necessary for long-term housing stability, Heartland Alliance’s National Center on Employment and Homelessness is very excited to launch the Pathways Forward Learning Forum—a one-year community of practice that aims to catalyze and support stakeholders’ efforts to increase employment for homeless jobseekers in their communities. Participants in the Learning Forum will engage in a series of monthly interactive digital sessions with peers from across the country.
Joint Statement from Federal Partners Identifies Opportunities to Advance Employment and Economic Opportunity for Homeless Jobseekers
Watch Our Webinar – Access to Economic Opportunity Helps End Homelessness: New Opportunities in the 2019 CoC Program NOFA
Today, the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a joint statement identifying opportunities for the public workforce and homeless service systems to work together to advance employment and economic opportunity for people experiencing homelessness. The statement from the Departments is in response to HUD’s Fiscal Year 2019 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the homeless service system (the Continuum of Care Program), which identifies employment as a key strategy for ending homelessness and a top priority for communities.
At Heartland Alliance, we believe that all people experiencing homelessness who want to work should be able to achieve employment and the income needed for long-term housing stability. Through the work of our National Center on Employment & Homelessness, we’ve advocated for the homeless service system to increase incentives for communities to prioritize connecting people experiencing homelessness to employment, training, and education opportunities.
“Through its stated policy priorities, HUD urges that CoCs and CoC-funded projects prioritize training and employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.
This is a strong and welcomed signal from HUD that they are seeking to fund community-wide commitments to promote income and employment as a part of preventing and ending homelessness.
No single public system can support pathways to employment and income for homeless jobseekers alone. Today’s joint statement by HUD and DOL reflects important and necessary federal cross-agency collaboration which can be a model for local communities nationwide.”
Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives
That’s why we were excited to see that this year, HUD added a new employment-related policy priority to the 2019 Continuum of Care Program NOFA. HUD will award points to communities whose funding applications demonstrate strategies to increase access to employment, training, education, and earned income for people experiencing homelessness. We also applaud HUD and DOL for working together to share ideas for how communities can partner across systems to do this work effectively.
Housing and income are inextricably linked.
Numerous studies find that increased income is a strong predictor of a person exiting homelessness and research tells us that individuals experiencing homelessness consistently rank paid employment alongside healthcare and housing as a primary need. When parents of families experiencing homelessness are asked to name one thing that would most help get their family back on its feet, the most common answer is employment. Over and over again, we find that those experiencing homelessness want to work and often are working already, but are not earning enough to keep a roof over their heads. So despite the fact that people experiencing homelessness want to, need to, and can work, far too few people experiencing homelessness are being connected to employment opportunities and income supports.
That is why, earlier this year, with the support of the Melville Charitable Trust and the Oak Foundation, Heartland Alliance introduced the Pathways Forward Challenge (PWFC) – a call to communities across the nation to create more effective and equitable pathways to employment for people experiencing homelessness through bold systems change and collaboration. Homelessness persists, in part, because public systems fail to connect all homeless jobseekers to equitable pathways to employment and the income necessary for long-term housing stability, and we hope the begin to change the system through our Pathways Forward Challenge.
At Heartland Alliance, we believe every person deserves the opportunity to succeed in work and support themselves and their families. For over two decades we’ve worked at the intersection of practice, policy, and research to advance solutions that ensure that everyone who wants to work has access to employment opportunities.
We know that the labor market excludes many people who want to work and who can and do work when offered employment opportunities and support. Even when the economy is healthy, millions of individuals struggle to get and keep work due to structural barriers that prevent access to employment and economic opportunity. This is why we’re pleased to see the introduction of the Long-Term Unemployment Elimination Act of 2019 by Senators Van Hollen (D-MD) and Wyden (D-OR).
This legislation would establish a national subsidized employment program for the long-term unemployed with a priority on high-poverty, high unemployment communities.