May 31, 2017

Interagency Council on Homelessness

The ABA expressed strong support last month for S. 743, a bill introduced March 28 by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to strengthen the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), which was established by the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. In an April 17 letter to the bill sponsors, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman noted that the legislation is particularly timely in light of President Trump’s proposed elimination of USICH in his fiscal year 2018 preliminary budget and the Oct. 1, 2017, expiration date of USICH’s authorization. Susman explained that the council does important work coordinating the efforts of 19 government agencies to combat homelessness. “Without the agency’s efforts, federal and federally supported local initiatives to end homelessness will take more time and cost more money,” he emphasized. The ABA is a strong supporter of USICH, particularly its role in leading efforts toward ending veteran homelessness, highlighting homeless courts, and calling for an end to the criminalization of homelessness. “Homelessness is a complex problem that requires a collaborative, comprehensive approach,” Reed explained in a press release announcing his bill. “Thanks in large part to the leadership, guidance, and best practices of [USICH], we have made real progress in ending and preventing homelessness.” He added that in the current budgetary environment “we need a wise and creative arm to help our communities identify and maximize resources and opportunities where possible, to ensure we are actually addressing homelessness, and not contributing to it.” S. 743 was referred to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

 

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