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  • Eileen Zilch

Progress on Ending Homelessness in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released in January its Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. This report provides a Point-In-Time estimate of homelessness in the U.S., and is conducted and reported annually. The report released in January summarizes the Point-In-Time count done in January 2018.

In January 2018, almost 553,000 people were homeless on a single night, with nearly two-thirds sheltered (in emergency shelters or transitional housing). 35% of the homeless were unsheltered (sleeping in a public or private space not designed for regular sleeping accommodations – like the street, vehicles or parks). While the PIT number increased slightly (less than 1%) from 2017 to 2018, since 2010, homelessness has decreased in the U.S. by 13%.

The PIT count is done annually by 398 Continuums of Care (CoC’s) nationwide, covering virtually the entire United States. While this count is important, there are many organizations who believe that it does not represent the true number of homeless individuals. Even with the limitations of a point-in-time number, it is encouraging to see that there has been a reduction in homelessness in the U.S. over the last 8 years.

The goals set by HUD, in conjunction with state and local partners, to end homeless in the U.S. include:

  • Prevent and end chronic homelessness

  • Prevent and end homelessness among Veterans

  • Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children

  • Set a path to ending all types of homelessness

Progress toward those goals (change since 2010), based on the January 2018 PIT count is as follows:

  • A 16% reduction in the number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness

  • The number of veterans experiencing homelessness has been cut in half

  • A 25% reduction in the number of families experiencing homelessness

  • The number of people in unsheltered locations increased for the third year in a row

and Homelessness varies significantly among the states/cities in the U.S.

  • More than 1 in 5 people experiencing homelessness did so either in New York City or Los Angeles

  • Suburban CoC’s had the highest percentage of people experiencing homelessness in families with children (36%)

  • Largely rural CoC’s had the highest rate of unsheltered homelessness (40%)

  • Michigan had over 8300 homeless people in January 2018

  • California, the state with the largest number of homeless people (almost 130,000 in January 2018), is only able to offer year-round beds to 21% of individuals experiencing homelessness

  • The state with the largest percentage of improvement in homelessness is Georgia, with a reduction of almost 52% since 2007. Even with that level of reduction, there were 9500 homeless individuals in Georgia in January 2018.

While clear progress has been made in many areas to reduce homelessness, there is still significant work to be done to eliminate homelessness in the U.S.

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