Tackling homelessness: a federal agency you likely never heard of


USICH Executive Director Matthew Doherty and NAR Vice President Elizabeth Mendenhall

Matthew Doherty wants REALTORS® to know that their efforts to help end homelessness count. The executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) spoke at the National Association of REALTORS®’ “Housing for All” symposium in Washington, DC this week.

For example, Doherty shared information on the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness and encouraged individuals to spread the word and encourage local mayors to join the cause. Also, he suggested REALTORS® volunteer in annual city or town efforts to count the homeless in their community. Both ideas could help identify needs and tap federal resources to help the homeless get safe and comfortable housing.

Doherty said more people need to understand a “housing first” solution.  This model approaches the problem by providing housing first and then working on job training, mental health issues, drug rehabilitation or any of the other issues that contribute to homelessness. Doherty reiterated a theme spoken by several presenters at the symposium: that once people have a place to call home, there is a much higher success rate overcoming the other issues.

USICH, a small agency of roughly 20 staff members, addresses chronic, youth, family and veteran homelessness by fostering partnerships at all levels of government and coordinating solutions through 19 federal agencies.


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