Homelessness Not Intractable Problem, We Know How and Have Resources to End It

HUD Releases 2019 AHAR Including Data on Racial Inequity in America’s Homeless Population

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), Part 1. The AHAR report estimates homelessness in the U.S. and includes at the end of the document an appendix with New Jersey specific data.

 The 2019 national AHAR report estimates that 568,000 people experienced homelessness across the United States in January 2019.  This number reflects a 3% increase in the homeless population in the U.S. since 2018. 
 
Communities and volunteers are preparing for NJCounts 2020 on Wednesday, January 29, 2020.  As we prepare for the next point-in-time count of the homeless, the national report offers a basis for comparison between the snapshot of trends in homelessness in New Jersey as compared to the entire United States.  NJCounts is New Jersey’s annal statewide point-in-time count.  
 
“What the report did not say: homelessness is solvable,” said NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel in press statement on the report. “We have proven solutions to end homelessness and, in the wealthiest nation in the world, we have the resources to solve the problem. We lack only the political will to fund the solutions at the scale necessary.”
 
The results of NJCounts 2020 will continue to guide us to work towards the goal of ending homelessness in New Jersey and ensuring that homelessness is a human right.
 
In New Jersey, NJCounts 2019, the state-wide point in time count of the homeless found:
 
  • 8,862 people experiencing homelessness on the evening of January 23, 2019,
  • 5,895 were single adults and 2,967 individuals were part of a family household,
  • 551 veterans experiencing homelessness,
  • 1,482 individuals living unsheltered and 7,380 individuals living in a shelter, and
  • There has been a 6.5% decrease in New Jersey’s homeless population since 2018.
 
The AHAR reported the same trend around the racial inequity in the population experiencing homelessness as NJCounts 2019.   African Americans in New Jersey ad the U.S. remained overrepresented among the homeless population compared to populations of New Jersey and the U.S.  As communities work to expand their understanding of the root causes of homelessness, it is important to recognize the structural forces impacting trajectories into and out of homelessness. 
 
Disparities in who experiences homelessness highlight the impact of a pervasive structural force: Systemic Racism. Acknowledging and understanding the impact of systemic racism on those experiencing homelessness is key to developing an effective system responsive to the community and strengthened in cultural understanding and awareness.
 
While they only represent 13% of the U.S. population, African Americans accounted for 40% of all people experiencing homelessness in 2019. Whites account for 77% of the total U.S. population but only 48% of all people experiencing homelessness. 
 
The AHAR summarizes estimates of homelessness at the national, state, and Continuum of Care (CoC) levels based on data from the annual point-in-time (PIT) counts of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January.
 
The PIT counts, conducted by local volunteers, are a “snapshot” of homelessness.  Monarch Housing Associates coordinated the annual NJCounts.
 
Much more information about the national snapshot of the population experiencing homelessness in January 2019 is available here from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).