Homes for the Holidays

Filed in Secretary Solis by on December 15, 2011 3 Comments

With most of us preparing to travel home or host our families for the upcoming holidays, it’s an important time to pause and think about those Americans who have no place to call home.

On Monday, I concluded my one year chairwomanship of President Obama’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. The Council’s mission is to coordinate the federal response to homelessness in America and create a national partnership at every level of government—and with the private sector—to work toward a day when we’ve eradicated homelessness in the world’s most prosperous nation.

Secretary Solis conducts her last meeting as the Chairwoman of President Obama’s Interagency Council on Homelessness.

I feel fortunate to work for a President who has made record investments in initiatives to end homelessness across all populations: families, youth, veterans and those who’ve experienced chronic homelessness.

The Obama administration has set the ambitious goal of preventing and ending homelessness in America by 2020. It’s vital to set ambitious goals that match the size of the challenge before us. This is how we can chart our progress and hold ourselves accountable for results. And despite our nation’s economic challenges, I’m proud to report that we’re making tangible progress.

This week, we announced a 12-percent drop in the veterans’ homeless rate over a one-year period, a 3-percent drop in the family homeless rate and a 2-percent drop in the overall homeless rate nationwide. Earlier this fall, we announced that we’ve ended or prevented homelessness for one million Americans under President Obama as a result of Recovery Act investments made in HUD’s homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing program.

We still have a lot of work to do. On any given night in America, 636,017 people go to bed on the streets and in homeless shelters. Our data shows that families experiencing homelessness are usually headed by a single mother with young children. Many times, these mothers have made the brave decision to leave an abusive situation to protect themselves and their kids. Finding safe, affordable housing is one of the greatest obstacles they face after escaping domestic violence.

To put a human face on this intractable problem, I felt it was critical for leaders of the 19 federal agencies represented on our Interagency Council to go out into the community and meet the people we’re charged with serving. So this September, for the first time, I convened a Council meeting out in the community—instead of in a stuffy federal conference room. I’ve been involved in public service for more than 20 years; I know there’s no substitute for getting out in different neighborhoods and having an open and honest dialogue with the people we represent.

Secretary Solis embraces Ruth McGhee -- a Community of Hope resident whom she called "super mom" for her amazing ability to balance work, school and motherhood -- following the USICH meeting on September 13.

In the small basement of the Girard Street Shelter in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., we met a remarkable 22-year-old single mother. She was working two full-time jobs and going to school to pursue a degree in early childhood education while raising her 1-year-old daughter. She had escaped a bad situation at home and was operating on three hours of sleep a night to give her child opportunities that she never had. This young mother had fallen on hard times, but she never gave up. And the temporary shelter provided by “Community of Hope,” funded under the Recovery Act’s rapid re-housing program, was a lifeline to them. She inspired me and reinforced the importance of the work we do every day in this administration.

When I passed the gavel to our new Interagency Council Chair, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, I pledged to remain an active and engaged member of the body. Because the truth is, we can’t solve the homelessness problem without continuing to make progress on job training and job creation.

Secretary Solis passes the gavel to the new Interagency Council Chair, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

At our final meeting, we focused on finalizing a framework to solve the challenge of youth homelessness. I reported on the Department of Labor’s work to help at-risk and economically disadvantaged youth. Our agency provides job training to runaways, foster youth, homeless youth and those who face multiple barriers to employment. Our programs like Job Corps and YouthBuild have helped tens of thousands of youth earn academic and career technical credentials. We help them find jobs, continue their education and prepare for careers in the military. In doing so, we help keep so many at-risk youth on track and off the streets.

Successes like these are why I fight so hard as Labor Secretary to preserve critical program budgets that serve Americans most in need. By fighting the good fight and being our brother and sister’s keepers, I know we can help thousands more Americans go home for the holidays—their home.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Gregg says:

    Ms Solis i might be homeless soon after becoming a whistleblower and then fired for it just a few weeks after contacting OSHA.
    See it’s really hard to find work after your labeled a whistleblower.I know i did the right thing in contacting DOL/OSHA about the unsafe equipment my employer was knowingly renting to the public and some used on federal job sites with indisputible company documentation given to DOL/OSHA of this safety problem.
    Were barley holding on here and trying to explain to our two children ages five and seven that there is not much santa will bring this year because we need the money to keep a roof over our heads.
    Thank god my oldest son in the navy sent gifts from where he is stationed that will really help this year,he’s a great young man for even vise president Joe Biden was at his base six months ago and offered my son to conduct his reinlistment ceremony.The picture of my son with the vise presidents arm around my son is going to hang on my wall for the rest of my life.My son even volunteers his time to the underprivlaged kids in this country he is stationed.
    It breaks my heart that i have no money to even send him a card Ms Solis.
    How is it that i had a great work record with this employer where i went from third class mechanic to first class in three years,traveled assisting other branches,sent for management training by the vise president of this company,always worked over time when asked,sent to houston texas twice to assist opening a new branch,even had another job offer that this company countered and stated that they did not want to lose me,used a picture of me in there brochure ,and more,and OSHA accepted the reason the employer used that i was lazy ,From what i understand most employers do not reward lazy workers right Ms Solis?I never even asked for any of those things Ms Solis, not one.
    It’s really hard to go throuh this where i even bought my home 8 years ago as a major handyman speical just so we could live with in our means Ms Solis.

  2. Gregg says:

    Here is another point that involves my former employer and my home of all things Ms Solis.
    See Ms Solis i would always step up when asked by management at this former employer wether it was comining in early or staying late or hustling to get a machine done where management would always say “Adda,boy” to me steping up.So one day i jokeingly said to them “You know if only my mortgage company would take “Adda,boys” it would be paid off”. Management thought that comment was so funny that they went into the office and made up a document on the computer and printed them off where it states: Gregg(last name) did a great job today that he was given an “Adda,boy” could you please apply it twards his mortage” Then management would always sighn them.
    I provided copies of these to 11(c) Ms Solis so why did 11(c) take this employers position that they claimed i was lazy?
    I have asked you this through TALKTOSOLIS@DOL.GOV but you never reply.
    But what do you care you have a cushy government job and set for life Ms Solis.

  3. Jessica says:

    I am very thankful for this site through this we can read the plans of the President that can make our country more reliable.

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