Council Focuses on Employment and Homelessness at Fall Meeting

During our Fall Council meeting, member agencies welcomed our new vice-chair from the U.S. Department of Education, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan. Brogan is a longtime educator and has served in numerous leadership positions in higher education, including President of Florida Atlantic University and Chancellor of both Florida’s and Pennsylvania’s public universities.

USICH also updated Council members on the rollout of Home, Together. Since the release of the new federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness in July 2018, member agencies have promoted the plan at speaking events and through online communication, resulting in more than 7,000 unique visits to the Home, Together page on the USICH website. USICH also hosted a briefing for congressional staff to provide background on the plan, as well as its goals, objectives, and areas of increased focus. Council members discussed opportunities to further promote the plan.

Focus on Employment

The primary focus of the meeting was the work of the newly formed federal Interagency Working Group on Employment and Homelessness. The formation of the Working Group – chaired jointly by USICH and the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - reflects the increased focus in Home, Together on helping people who exit homelessness find employment success.

Convened for the first time in August 2018, the Working Group has begun a preliminary review of the set of federal programs that can serve individuals who are at risk of, experiencing, or have recently exited homelessness, and potential actions to better support communities to more closely integrate employment and partner with workforce systems as part of efforts to prevent and end homelessness.

USICH and DOL presented and led a discussion focused on the existing public workforce system and programs, the intersection of issues related to homelessness and employment, including obstacles impacting jobseekers experiencing homelessness, and the proposed strategic framework and preliminary set of activities for federal action.

Key Strategy Areas

The Working Group is collaboratively identifying actions that federal agencies will take in four strategic areas:

  1. Addressing data and knowledge gaps related to housing and employment among people experiencing homelessness.
  2. Clarifying and developing messaging and guidance to strengthen coordination between homelessness assistance and workforce systems.
  3. Increasing access to existing employment services and programs for individuals experiencing or exiting homelessness.
  4. Supporting pilot or demonstration efforts to spur action and innovation in addressing the needs of individuals at risk of, experiencing, or exiting homelessness.

Through the discussion, Council members identified other commitments federal agencies can make to strengthen coordination between the homelessness assistance and workforce systems and improve employment outcomes and economic mobility for people experiencing and exiting homelessness. Informed by this discussion, and through further meetings, interagency discussions, and stakeholder input, the Working Group will refine the framework and set of planned and proposed federal activities and report back at a Council meeting in 2019.