HUD reports decrease in Mass. homeless population

Homelessness in Massachusetts fell 0.5 percent in 2015, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said.

HUD released its 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress on November 19, HUD said in a press release. The report found that 21,135 people experienced homelessness across Massachusetts in 2015, of which 97.2 percent were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and 2.8 percent were found in unsheltered locations.

While homelessness declined in 2015, family homelessness increased 2.6 percent over the past year, HUD said.

The results of the Assessment Report were based on HUD’s ‘point-in-time’ estimates, which measure the scope of homelessness each year on a single night in January, HUD said. Those estimates showed 1,411 individuals experienced chronic homelessness in Massachusetts, an 11.3 percent decline from 2014.

Homelessness among veterans also declined in 2015, HUD said. There were 1,133 veterans who were reported homeless, a 10.4 percent decline from 2014.

Nationwide, Veteran homelessness has declined 36 percent since 2010, the year President Obama launched Opening Doors, the nation’s first-ever comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness, HUD said. Family homelessness also dropped 19 percent, and chronic homelessness fell 22 percent.

While homelessness across the country declined in some areas between 2010 and 2015, family homelessness spiked 39.1 percent in Massachusetts during that period, HUD said.

HUD Secretary Julián Castron said the declines certain homeless populations were a result of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end homelessness.

“The Obama Administration has made an historic commitment to effectively end homelessness in this nation,” Castro said. “Together with our partners across the federal government and communities from coast to coast, we have made tremendous progress toward our ambitious goals. But our work is far from finished. We have to continue making smart investments in the strategies that work so that everyone has a roof over their head.”

While Kristine Foye, HUD New England Acting Regional Administrator applauded the progress Massachusetts has made towards ending homelessness, she said there’s still work left to be done.

“We are excited by the progress that Massachusetts has made in the battle to end homelessness,” Foye said. “We know that there is more work to be done but with the dedicated statewide partnership efforts taking place on the ground, we will succeed.”

Robert Sondak is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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