The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) applauds Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) for introducing legislation to make permanent the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). This legislation is crucial to the continued operations and funding of the agency that coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies and provides guidance to local governments and private organizations to prevent and end homelessness. The legislation from Senator Collins and Reed stands in sharp contrast to President Trump’s FY 2018 budget request, which proposed to eliminate funding to USICH.
More than 71% of extremely low income renter households in America spend more than half of their income on rent, putting them one financial or medical crisis away from homelessness. Additionally, over 500,000 people in the United States are homeless on a given night. The USICH breaks down bureaucratic and funding silos to harness and focus resources from across the federal government on one of the country’s most solvable problems: homelessness.
With focused attention and increased resources in recent years, USICH successfully worked with states and local communities to significantly reduce chronic and veterans’ homelessness. But the work of USICH is not complete. USICH is now working towards reducing homelessness among families with children, and it needs the authorization and resources to do so effectively.
USICH’s authorization is arbitrarily set to expire this year. Instead, it should sunset when we have ended homelessness in this country, and not a moment sooner. Eliminating the sunset date for the USICH is an important step to ensure Congress and the Administration remain vigilant in the fight to end homelessness and housing poverty in the U.S. We look forward to working with Senators Collins and Reed to enact this and other important legislation to end homelessness and housing poverty once and for all.