Built upon the most recent nationally available data from the federal Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Justice, and other public information sources, this report analyzes the effect the recession has had on homelessness and how it has contributed to an increased risk of homelessness for many Americans.
These findings project a disquieting picture of what depressed wages, stagnant unemployment, unrelenting housing cost burden, and the lagging pace of the economic recovery could bring about: increases in homelessness and heightened risk of homelessness for more and more Americans.
As the new Congress and the Administration consider steps to revitalize the American economy with jobs, extension of benefits, and access to health care, it would be prudent to take note of these increased risk factors and incorporate homeless interventions into their recovery strategy.
The nation’s homeless population increased by approximately 20,000 people from 2008 to 2009 (3 percent increase).
There were also increased numbers of people experiencing homelessness in each of the subpopulations examined in this report: families, individuals, chronic, unsheltered.
A majority – 31 of 50 states and the District of Columbia – had increases in their homeless counts.
Among subpopulations, the largest percentage increase was in the number of family households, which increased by over 3,200 households (4 percent increase). Also, the number of persons in families increased by more than 6,000 people (3 percent increase).
After population reductions from 2005 to 2008, the number of chronically homeless people in the country remained stagnant from 2008 to 2009, despite an 11 percent increase in the number of permanent supportive housing units.
While most people experiencing homelessness are sheltered, nearly 4 in 10 were living on the street, in a car, or in another place not intended for human habitation.
It is widely agreed upon that there is a vast undercount of the number of young people experiencing homelessness.
Underscoring this is the fact that 35 percent of all communities reported that there were no homeless youth in their communities in 2009.
Key findings of the report on demographic drivers
The doubled up population (people living with family or friends for economic reasons) increased by 12 percent to more than 6 million people from 2008 to 2009.
In the course of a year, the estimated odds of experiencing homelessness for a doubled up person are 1 in 10.
In the course of a year, the estimated odds of experiencing homelessness for a released prisoner are 1 in 11.
In the course of a year, the estimated odds of experiencing homelessness for a young adult who ages out of foster care are 1 in 6.
While the national number of uninsured people remained relatively constant, 33 states saw an increase in the number of uninsured people.