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A Single Plan with a Double Standard

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This week the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) delivered Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness 2010, the nation's first broad strategy to prevent and end homelessness to President Obama and Congress.

The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) congratulates USICH for introducing the Federal Strategic Plan (FSP) and securing agreement from its 19 member agencies. We also embrace the plan's vision that no one should experience homelessness and no one should be without a safe place to call home. President Obama, in his letter accepting the plan, declared "ending homelessness in America must be a national priority." The FSP provides a frame of understanding about contemporary domestic homelessness, suggests a direction going forward and outlines a set of general strategies that when put into operation may indeed contribute to preventing and reducing homelessness.

The FSP is undoubtedly groundbreaking. However, many of the methods outlined are vague and without firm commitment to allocate funds and implement strategies, there will certainly be continued need for further discussion and action to address this national priority. Further, the FSP must not create a double standard and hold itself to the same strict standard that it holds for local communities: clear numeric goals, timetables, and identify funding and implementing bodies to ensure they move from planning to action.

NCH commends USICH for utilizing multiple and innovative tactics for consultation with the public, as it developed the FSP and particularly commends USICH for its active efforts and future commitment to engage all stakeholders during development, dissemination, implementation and monitoring of the plan. USICH afforded people experiencing homelessness and people who recently experienced homelessness substantive roles in the plan's development and inclusion in the implementation strategy. NCH vigorously encouraged this prioritization and appreciates the plan's pledge to continue to involve individuals experiencing homelessness in ongoing planning efforts. USICH should codify its intent to include homeless stakeholders by adding as a key principle that future strategic plans continue be both first person-driven and first person-responsive.

NCH applauds the development of a plan and pledges to work with USICH to ensure that effective strategies are implemented, as its works towards the mutual mission of ending homelessness. We welcome the USICH and its members to embrace and fully support and fund the goal of the President Obama and NCH: Bring America Home.

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