Cabinet Leadership Advances Efforts to End Family Homelessness
On July 9th, the Obama Administration convened a meeting to push forward its agenda to end homelessness. USICH Chair, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, and Vice Chair, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, met with other Council leaders including ED Secretary Arne Duncan and DOL Acting Secretary Seth Harris, Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service Wendy Spencer, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Melissa Rogers, and representatives from 11 other member agencies. The group discussed ways to leverage opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act and ways to better serve families who are experiencing homelessness. Donna Seymour, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Warrior Care Policy at the Department of Defense, also updated the Council on DoD’s efforts since the last Council meeting to coordinate transitions from active service to Veteran status for our nation’s Service members .
Affordable Care Act
Cindy Mann , JD, Deputy Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services at the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Council that the Affordable Care Act presents a game-changing opportunity to end and prevent homelessness. The Affordable Care Act will increase health insurance coverage to people experiencing homelessness through the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, as well as through improved access to subsidized and unsubsidized private health insurances. At the time of the presentation, 23 states and the District of Columbia had made plans to expand their Medicaid programs. Director Mann also discussed; integrated models of health care and social services, such as Health Homes. These models can help people with chronic conditions experiencing homelessness, including frequent users of emergency departments. In anticipation of the expansion, the Council is assisting communities by:
- Encouraging grantees that serve people experiencing homelessness to assist with Medicaid enrollment
- Exploring ways to increase alignment between means-tested programs and Medicaid eligibility and enrollment
- Providing assistance and guidance to states around how to align Medicaid services with housing for people experiencing homelessness
Ending Family Homelessness
The Council remains committed and energized around the goal of ensuring that all families have a safe and stable place to call home. Mark Greenberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services, reported on recent interagency work around this priority. He presented a
summary of the latest data and suggested Federal strategies that would help drive an end to family homelessness. The presentation prompted an animated discussion among Council leaders. Secretary Duncan highlighted ways the Council’s work on family homelessness aligns with the Administration’s commitment to ensure access to high-quality early childhood education. Secretary Donovan discussed the importance of innovative and cost-effective responses to family homelessness,particularly rapid rehousing.
Secretary Shinseki described VA’s commitment of $300 million in grants for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. And Wendy Spencer, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, offered to explore ways that AmeriCorps and Senior Corps volunteers can play an even larger role in helping to end homelessness.
With strong leadership from Council Chair Secretary Shinseki and Vice Chair Secretary Donovan and the full support of President Obama and the White House, the Council continues its push to reach the goal of ending homelessness in every community.