Homelessness in the U.S. Creeps Upwards, Disproportionately Affects Minorities

In NJ, Over 9,300 Experienced Homelessness; Racial Minorities Significantly Overrepresented in That Population

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) released its annual report, The State of Homelessness in America, using data from HUD’s annual Point-in-Time Count. While the report finds homelessness decreased by 15% from 2007 to 2018, recent years have brought an uptick in homelessness, with a 0.5% increase since 2016. On a given night in 2018, 552,830 people were experiencing homelessness, or 17 out of every 10,000 people nationwide.

The report found that on any given night in New Jersey in 2018, 9,398 people experienced homelessness. This translates to 10 individuals experiencing homelessness in New Jersey per 10,000 people in the general population. Between 2017 and 2018, there was an uptick in homelessness in New Jersey with a 10% increase from 8,536 people experiencing homelessness in 2017.

NJCounts 2018, the statewide Point-In-Time Count found 9,303 individuals experiencing homelessness in 2018. There is a discrepancy of 95 less individuals than in the number reported in The State of Homelessness in America report ad compared to NJCounts 2018. This discrepancy is most likely due to homeless numbers reported by shelter providers such as domestic violence shelters directly to HUD not to NJCounts 2018. NJCounts 2018 also found an overall increase of 9% in homelessness from 2017 to 2018. Monarch Housing coordinated NJCounts, the annual statewide Point-in-Time count of the homeless.

Racial and ethnic minorities are significantly over-represented in the population experiencing homelessness. The State of Homelessness in America found that Blacks account for 13% of the U.S. population but 40% of the homeless population.

In New Jersey, persons identifying as Black or African American are overrepresented in the population experiencing homelessness and living below the poverty level. NJCounts 2018 found that Blacks account for 13% of the population of New Jersey but 48% of homeless population in the state. By comparison, whites account for 79% of the U.S. population, but 50% of the homeless population. NJCounts 2018 found that whites account for 57% of the population of New Jersey but only 27% of the homeless population.

Emergency shelters, transitional housing, and safe haven providers have temporary beds to serve 70% of the homeless population. Their combined bed-capacity is sufficient for people in families with children but not for individuals. The U.S. has a shortage of more than 175,000 temporary beds for individuals experiencing homelessness.

The report found that homeless services providers in New Jersey had a shortage of 2,873 temporary beds for individuals and 535 temporary beds for families. These numbers were determined based on the number of homeless individuals and families as compared to total beds. In 2018, New Jersey had 277 seasonal shelter beds.

Permanent supportive housing is the predominant intervention addressing homelessness today, with 57% of assistance beds dedicated to permanent housing options in 2018, an increase from 31% in 2007. The number of permanent supportive housing beds has increased by 92% since 2007. Rapid re-housing, the newest strategy to address homelessness, has increased from 19,847 beds in 2013 to 109,095 in 2018, a 450% increase in just 5 years.

Tracking trends in homelessness assistance, in 2018, New Jersey had 4,624 emergency beds; 6,759 permanent supportive housing beds; 1,695 rapid re-housing beds; and 2,475 transitional housing beds. Since 2007, the number of emergency and supportive housing beds in the state have increased while the number of transitional housing beds has decreased.

The report showed that New Jersey has a significant population living at risk of homelessness. In 2017, 88,545 households were living doubled up and at risk of homelessness. And 163,901 New Jersey households lived with a severe housing cost burden. Both categories of at risk households in New Jersey have increased since 2007.

Click here for the full The State of Homelessness in America report with more information and New Jersey data.