This week is the first anniversary of Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
This week is the first anniversary of Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. To mark the occasion, two members of the Funders Together to End Homelessness Board were invited to participate in a webinar hosted by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), highlighting both what has been working in the plan and where improvement is needed. More than 500 people accessed the conference call, engaging in a candid conversation about the first year of implementation of Opening Doors.
Barbara Poppe, executive director of USICH, moderated a panel of representatives from the federal government and stakeholders from across the country. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who chairs USICH, pointed out the significance of Opening Doors as the federal government’s first plan to prevent and end homelessness. She reaffirmed the need for strong collaboration among the federal agencies; federal, state and local governments; and nonprofits to make the plan a reality.
Derek Douglas, special assistant to the president for urban affairs, reiterated President Obama’s commitment to the goals of Opening Doors, demonstrated through a proposed 23% increase for homeless programs in the 2012 budget. A panel of stakeholders then shared their perspectives on national and local work to prevent and end homelessness. The speakers touched upon national advocacy, chronic homelessness, veteran homelessness, family homelessness and youth homelessness.
Funders Together was represented by board members David Wertheimer, of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Leslie Strnisha, of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. We were asked to speak to the following question: To assist nationwide efforts to implement Opening Doors and achieve its goals, how can government and the public sector further engage the private sector and philanthropy? This question complements a primary goal for Funders Together: aligning philanthropy with the national plan to prevent and end homelessness.
Opening Doors presents a blueprint for this work. The plan assigns responsibility for preventing and ending homelessness across many systems, national and local, calling for a more efficient approach to allocating homelessness resources in local communities. As funders, even collectively, we know that our resources are only a fraction of the dollars spent on prevention and permanent housing solutions. Opening Doors provides opportunities for philanthropy to align funding in local communities in a way that will not only leverage limited dollars more efficiently, but also help realize the common goal and social imperative – preventing and ending homelessness. As one panelist remarked, we can only meet the national goals of ending homelessness if every community across the country meets this goal locally.
As Senior Program Director, Leslie Strnisha leads the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland’s program team to develop targeted, outcomes-based approaches for its grantmaking and non-grantmaking activities.