An Overview of Homelessness in America

Housing Affordability an Obstacle to Ending Homelessness

A recent blog post from Enterprise reported that a hearing called An Overview of Homelessness in America was held by the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee last month. This hearing was held to examine the current state of homelessness in the country given that “over 500,000 people were experiencing homelessness on a given night in January 2017.”

The hearing centered around comprehensive approaches to housing assistance programs for those experiencing homelessness in order to address the needs of all vulnerable populations. A key theme of the meeting was a unanimous acceptance of the fact that housing affordability is a major obstacle in ending homelessness across the country.

As housing prices continue to rise across the country there has also been a steady increase in the number homeless individuals. Similarly, homelessness among the youth population has become a growing concern.

“One in thirty youth, aged 13-17, and one in ten young adults, aged 18-25, experienced a form of homelessness over a 12-month period.”

The solution to the increase in youth homelessness has been implementing workforce and community-based housing, particularly targeting foster care alumni. This approach appears to be promising in regard to decreasing the amount of homeless youth.

Another key theme of the hearing was that rural and urban homelessness differ in that rural communities’ experience “low wages, underemployment, lack of public transportation and geographic and social isolation”, thus rural and urban homelessness must be addressed differently.

Hearing participants also all acknowledged that although the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless assistance programs have resulted in a decline in homelessness, additional federal resources and collaboration was necessary to address the urgent needs regarding homelessness. This theory is centered around the idea that people facing homelessness are also facing other issues, for instance lack of healthcare or employment, and these issues must also be addressed in order to ensure permanent results.

Many members of the subcommittee expressed their approval of the increase in funding for critical HUD programs in the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill, demonstrating that there is strong support for expanding the target areas for ending homelessness.

Enterprise Community Blog Post

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