USICH has been instrumental in our efforts to rethink the systems that have allowed homelessness to persist.
Today, on Barb Poppe’s last day as Executive Director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), I would like to take a moment to recognize the countless contributions that USICH, Barb, and her team have made to our work and that of philanthropy more broadly.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start with the creation and adoption of Opening Doors, the first comprehensive federal plan to end homelessness. Adopted in 2010, the plan aims to end chronic and veterans homelessness by 2015, and homelessness among children, families, and youth and all forms of homelessness by 2020. Opening Doors has provided a real framework for communities – and philanthropy within those communities – to build strategies to end and prevent homelessness. Since 2010, we have witnessed a giant leap forward among our members, who are more effective in their grantmaking and advocacy because they are guided by a clear framework and data.
USICH has facilitated unprecedented collaboration among federal agencies and between the federal government and local communities. USICH has also been instrumental in bringing government and philanthropy together in innovative partnerships that are having positive effects and creating lasting change. Our members are now working closely with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Education, and now the U.S. Department of Labor.
These relationships are critical for philanthropy. We can only change the system if we work together. Neither government nor philanthropy has enough resources, and we benefit from sharing our perspectives, aligning our resources, and challenging each other to develop innovative, long-lasting solutions. In addition, with USICH’s support, we have a better understanding of philanthropy’s role in a systemic approach to ending homelessness and government agencies have a better understanding of the ways philanthropy can support their own efforts.
In 2012, USICH facilitated a collaboration between government and philanthropy in the Youth Count! The USICH team has been unwavering champions for systems that meet the unique needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. The Youth Count! is an interagency initiative to collect data on unaccompanied youth through age 24 through the existing Point-in-Time count conducted by HUD each year. Funders Together members funded the evaluation of the first count of unsheltered youth in nine cities, with the goal of developing best practices throughout the United States.
We thank USICH for its leadership over the years. Barb, we know that you will continue to use your knowledge, your wisdom, your passion, and your compassion to serve those who find themselves without homes. We look forward to working with you in whatever your new capacity and wish you all the best as you head west, to your own home.
We are so thrilled to continue our work with Laura Zeilinger, the new Executive Director of USICH. She is incredibly knowledgeable and committed, and under her leadership, we know USICH and Funders Together will continue to work together to end and prevent homelessness.
As Executive Director of Funders Together, Anne brings years of expertise in both the corporate and not-for-profit sector. She is passionate about promoting the philanthropic community’s catalytic role in ending homelessness, working with government to create public-private partnerships, and advocating for funding and policies which end, rather than manage, homelessness. Find her at @FTEHAM.