As Prepared For Delivery:
I want to welcome everyone to the White House. Also, many thanks to those of you who are tuning in.
I want to express special gratitude to the state and local leaders who are with us from all across the country, and with whom we will partner on the efforts we are discussing today. We selected you for your clear vision, commitment, alignment of values, and your effectiveness in tackling this complex and difficult challenge.
Looking around this room, I want to welcome leaders who have been on the frontlines of addressing some of the most pressing issues we face together as a nation:
- Mayor Karen Bass of Los Angeles, California;
- Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona;
- Mayor John Giles of Mesa, Arizona;
- Mayor Bruce Harrell of Seattle, Washington;
- Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn King Arnold of Dallas, Texas;
- County Executive James Dow Constantine of King County, Washington;
- Deputy Mayor Jennifer Johnson of Chicago, Illinois; and
- Lourdes M. Castro Ramirez, Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency for the State of California
We also have community partners with us today. Thank you for all you do every day to reduce homelessness and ensure every person has a place to call home. Thank you.
As the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor, I am proud to work with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and all of our federal agencies to lead our crucial efforts to address and end homelessness.
Our nation’s homelessness challenge, at its roots, comes down to an inadequate supply of housing, but it also intersects with mental and behavioral health, substance use, and so many other key issues.
As of 2022, there were over 580,000 homeless people in the country. Sadly, four out of every 10 of those individuals were unsheltered, living on the streets, in tents, in cars, or other places—going to sleep without a roof over their heads.
Many of the people who are homeless are veterans who served our country, and youth who aged out of foster care and had no supports to help them thrive. They are children, mothers, fathers, and friends.
People are living on the streets not by choice, but despite trying to remain housed, for various reasons, they could not.
President Biden firmly believes that everyone deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to live, and he is committed to achieving that.
In December, we released the Administration’s federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, which set an ambitious but attainable goal of reducing homelessness by 25% percent by 2025.
The plan emphasized the importance of pursuing policies that have been proven to work, like housing first—an evidence-based approach that uses housing as a platform for other critical services, such as job training and mental health services.
The plan also focuses on homelessness prevention, because we should both help people who are homeless become housed, and prevent people from falling into homelessness in the first place.
During the pandemic, which was one of the worst economic periods in our nation’ history, the Biden-Harris Administration deployed over 11 million emergency rental assistance payments and pursued ambitious mortgage forbearance policies, both of which helped millions of people remain housed. That is why homelessness remained flat between 2020 and 2022, rather than dramatically increasing.
We know we cannot meaningfully address our nation’s homelessness problem without a distinct focus on unsheltered homelessness we are unveiling today.
That’s why my team at the Domestic Policy Council, along with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and 19 federal agencies that comprise it, have been working to develop All INside, the new place-based initiative focused on unsheltered homelessness.
I am going to turn it over to my good friend and colleague, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, the chair of the USICH, who will tell you more about this important initiative.