Monday, June 21, 2010

Less homeless, but more homeless families

Last week, Housing and Urban Development released their 2009 Annual Assessment Report to Congress. It tells the story of homelessness on one night in January of 2009 when 643,000 people were homeless. An estimated 1.56 million, one in every 200 Americans, spent at least one night in a shelter during 2009. The gist of the report is that individual homelessness is down, but family homelessness is up for the second straight year.

As a nation, we’re doing better. We shelter more people who would otherwise be on the streets. Chronic homelessness was down nearly 30% from levels in 2006. The biggest concern is for families, especially those who haven’t yet entered the counts.

From the Report:
“The long-term impacts of the recession are unclear. A recent study found a nearly five-fold increase in the rate of housing overcrowding, suggesting that many families are doubling up in response to the economic downturn. If some of these family support networks already are struggling to make ends meet, some of the doubled-up families may find their way into the homeless residential service system during 2010.

On the other hand, as the nation comes out of the recession and as the stimulus funding made available through the Homeless Prevention and Re-housing (HPRP) Program starts helping families in crisis avoid shelter, it also is possible that family homelessness will decline during the next reporting period. Indeed, as of May 2010, HPRP has already served more than 350,000 people and approximately 75 percent of the funds have been used for prevention services.”

You can find the whole report at

This week, the Obama administration will issue the first national proposal to prevent and end homelessness.