FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 5, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
HHS Releases Strategic Action Plan on Homelessness
HHS Secretary Assumes Role of Chairman of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced his vision for helping America's homeless through improving their access to health insurance and health services and by encouraging continued collaboration among other committed federal agencies.
"I am excited to assume the role of chairman of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, and look forward to working with other agencies to prevent homelessness," Secretary Leavitt said. "HHS, the council and our federal partners recognize this valuable opportunity to help thousands of individuals, families, and children who experience homelessness in our country each day."
During the next year as the new chairman of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), Secretary Leavitt seeks to incorporate a greater focus on preventing chronic homelessness. HHS' Departmental Strategic Action Plan on Homelessness, released today, details HHS strategies toward preventing homelessness by ensuring the provision of services to eligible individuals and families, empowering states and community partners to improve their response to homelessness, and tracking Departmental progress in reaching these goals.
The five-year plan includes an increased focus on homeless families and youth.
The ICH is responsible for coordinating the federal response to homelessness across 20 federal departments and agencies, and creating a national partnership at every level of government and the private sector to reduce and end homelessness in the nation. The council and its 20-member federal agencies focus on factors impacting persons experiencing homelessness, such as substance abuse and mental health, housing, employment, education, and access to health care.
To increase access to health services, HHS has developed pathways that individuals and families experiencing homeless can use to access essential health services, such as Medicare and Medicaid, Community Health Centers and through the new Affordable Choices Health Insurance Initiative.
Secretary Leavitt will also lead ICH efforts to improve the coordination of services across federal agencies to persons experiencing homelessness, and to those at higher risk of becoming homeless, such as youth aging out of foster care.
Homelessness has a detrimental impact on the health of individuals, families and children, interfering with access to appropriate health care and complicating treatment for existing health conditions. To help remove these barriers, HHS will develop a set of technical assistance activities to promote access to available health insurance and health services opportunities, including Medicaid. As a first step, Secretary Leavitt also released today a new report developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services entitled A Primer on How to Use Medicaid to Assist Persons Who Are Homeless to Access Medical, Behavioral Health and Support Services. This primer provides an overview of the Medicaid program, including the basic features of the program, such as eligibility pathways and mandatory and optional benefits to assist persons experiencing homelessness.
"The work of the council is to move beyond managing the crisis to ending chronic homelessness," said Philip F. Mangano, executive director of the ICH. "We are pleased to have Secretary Leavitt's leadership as we work toward our one goal, one objective, and one mission of abolishing chronic homelessness in America."
A new HHS online resource on homelessness with easy-to-find and updated information related to federal grants, research, and other resources for policy makers and providers interested in helping America end homelessness can be found at www.hhs.gov/homeless.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: January 20, 2009