In the next three years, homelessness in the United States could increase by an estimated 5 %, or 74,000 people.
The projections are based on new evidence about increased poverty and future economic trends coupled with federal, state, and local budget cuts.
Additionally, the paper recommends the following four interventions that could be implemented to prevent an increase in future homelessness:
Continue the cost effective investment in homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing, initiated by HPRP.
Continue investment in homeless programs that have proven to end homelessness, and provide resources to fully implement the HEARTH Act.
When setting spending priorities, ensure that a top priority is to protect the most vulnerable.
Ensure that any jobs initiatives also prioritize the most vulnerable people.
The projected increase in homelessness is not inevitable. Due to innovative, federally-funded approaches focused on preventing homelessness and quickly and appropriately re-housing those who do become homeless, homelessness declined by 2 percent from 2008 to 2009. It is clear that by using evidence-based, cost effective interventions, such as prevention, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing, homelessness can be reduced. However, these current interventions must be maintained.
Homelessness is a preventable and solvable problem. Allowing over a million people to become homeless every year has enormous economic, social, and human costs. The nation can learn from recent successful initiatives, and prevent the economic downturn and increasing poverty from creating a new class of homeless people. If it does so, cost effective efforts to end homelessness will proceed apace. If it does not, at least 74,000 more people will become homeless.