HUD reports homelessness in the U.S. declines by 14 percent

Homelessness is declining in the United States, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said in a press release November 17.

According to the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, 549,928 people experienced homelessness on a single night in 2016, a 14 percent decline since 2010. That year is significant since that also happened to be the year the Obama Administration launched Opening Doors, the first national strategy to help prevent and end homelessness.

Homelessness continues to decline specifically among families with children, Veterans, and individuals with long-term disabling conditions according to the latest national estimate by the HUD.

“Every person deserves a safe, stable place to call home,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in a statement. “The Obama Administration has made unprecedented progress toward ending homelessness and today marks the seventh straight year of measurable progress. While we know that our work is far from finished, it’s clear we’re on the right track to prevent and end homelessness for good.”

Over the seven-year period, the HUD estimates that “the nation experienced a 23 percent reduction among homeless families, a 47 percent drop in Veteran homelessness, and a 27 percent decline in individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.”

The national estimate is based on data reported by 3,000 cities and counties across the nation. According to the HUD, “every year on a single night in January, planning agencies called ‘Continuums of Care” and tens of thousands of volunteers seek to identify the number of individuals and families living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered settings.”

Castro noted that although they are making significant progress in reducing homelessness, the amount of ‘doubled up’ or rent-burdened families remains to be troubling.

“While our continued progress reinforces that we are on the right path, the data also makes clear that we must increase the pace of that progress,” Matthew Doherty, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness said in a statement “To do so, we must be unwavering in our commitment to strategies and investments that are working. Our communities and our citizens deserve nothing less.”

During one night in late January of this year, tens of thousands of volunteers across the nation tried to identify individuals and families living on the streets as well as in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs. 

Key Findings of HUD’s 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report:

On a single night in January 2016, state and local planning agencies reported:

  • 549,928 people were homeless representing an overall 14 percent reduction from January 2010. Most homeless persons (373,571) were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while 176,357 persons were unsheltered.
  • The number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined 23 percent since 2010. 
  • Veteran homelessness dropped by 47 percent (or 34,616 persons) since January 2010. On a single night in January 2016, 39,471 veterans were experiencing homelessness. 
  • Chronic or long-term homelessness among individuals declined by 27 percent (or 77,486 persons) since 2010.
  • The number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children appeared to decline in 2016 to 35,686 though HUD will launch a more robust effort to more accurately account for this important population in January of 2017.

The HUD believes that these one-night ‘snapshot’ counts, as well as full-year counts are crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress toward reducing it. 

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