Best Practices Having Impact
On Ending Homelessness
The number of people experiencing homelessness in America has continued to decline, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report.
Despite a sluggish economic recovery, homelessness in the U.S. declined by 4% from 2012 to 2013, from 633,782 to 610,040. That number represents a 9.2% decline since 2007.
“This decline shows the impact of improved approaches to homelessness,” said Nan Roman, President of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
In New Jersey, homelessness has decreased by 25% since 2013, from 17,314 to 13,025. And sheltered, unsheltered, chronic, family and veteran homeless populations have all seen significant decreases.
While the federal resources devoted to ending homelessness – except for veterans – did not increase appreciably during the period covered by the report, increasingly effective strategies have resulted in decreased homelessness across all subpopulations. These strategies include permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people, rapid re-housing, a focus on people living unsheltered, and improved targeting of resources.
Since 2007, nationally:
- Overall homelessness has decreased 9.2%, by more than 60,000 people;
- Unsheltered homelessness (people living in places not meant for human habitation) has decreased 23%;
- Chronic homelessness (individuals who are disabled and homeless for long periods or repeatedly) decreased more than 25%; and
- Homelessness among people in families decreased more than 10%.
- Additionally, veteran homelessness has decreased 23.5% since 2009, when the first reliable national estimate of veteran homelessness was made.
The report corroborates data released by the Department of Education in October that show declines in literal homelessness: people sleeping in shelters, the streets, and other places not meant for human habitation.
According to the Department of Education’s data, 222,116 enrolled students were in homeless shelters or unsheltered during the 2011 to 2012 school year, a 7% decrease from the previous year.
The data clearly show that federal investments in homelessness, along with an increased focus on effectiveness and outcomes, are working. The problem is far from solved, however, and with increasing housing costs, stagnant incomes, and more households doubling up in housing, the need is likely to increase. Further, while making progress, the Administration is not yet on a trajectory to meet its goals around ending homelessness.
“Federally-funded homeless programs work; but they are not adequate,” said Roman. “Too many people remain un-housed and even un-sheltered. Congress and the Administration must ramp up their investment in these proven-effective programs, and end this disgraceful problem in our nation.”
Click here for the full report. The report contains both data by state and by Continuum of Care.