AHAR: What Gets Measured Gets Managed

The Role of AHAR in Ending Homelessness

Annual Homeless Assessment Reports (AHARs) are reports that include analysis of data collected on homelessness across the country. The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) delivers the AHAR reports to Congress every year.

The AHARs gives accurate estimates of homelessness across the country including where homelessness is decreasing or increasing. The AHAR also gives detailed reports about different demographics experiencing homelessness, as well as what homelessness looks like in different parts of the country.

Most of the data used for the AHAR is collected from a “’one-night count’” of sheltered and uns-heltered homelessness conducted by community volunteers, and administrative data collected by Continuums of Care over the course of the year.” Monarch Housing Associates coordinates New Jersey’s annual point-in-time count of the homelessness, NJCounts.

Since the early 2000s the number of “number of communities covered by the AHAR has expanded and the analysis in the report has become more granular.”

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (the Alliance)’s Center for Evidence-based Solutions to Homelessness uses the trends from the AHAR reports to determine what investments and interventions were effective in reducing homelessness.

The most recent AHAR shows a slight increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness each night after six years of slight declines in homelessness. This increase mostly came from people experiencing un-sheltered homelessness.

The report also shows that there has been a decrease in the number of homeless veterans and the number of people with “chronic patterns of homelessness since the AHAR began in 2007.” The variation in trends of homelessness at the state and local level causes the national trends in homelessness.

The country’s largest states, California, New York, Florida, and Texas, account for the highest number of people experiencing homelessness. However, even within these states there is a great difference in the data.

California experiences homelessness at double the rate of the national average while Texas experiences homelessness at half of the national average. Trends in homelessness also differ greatly within states and their metropolitan area.

These trends and differences across trends in the nation allows the Center brief to explain these changes by looking at “investment in affordable housing programs, ‘right to shelter’ laws, and broader economic shifts.” Although there is not one single factor that affects trends in homelessness, analyzing this data allows for proper interventions to be made in an effort to overcome homelessness nationally.

Alliance’s Ending Homelessness Today Blog

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