Housing the Homeless

The number of people who are homeless has decreased in the US since 2007, but we have not seen increases in housing for all populations.

a graph of people in different ages

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The US Department of Housing and Urban Development conducts a point-in-time survey of homelessness across the country every year. The department counts the number people who lack fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and those who temporarily sleep in a shelter or in places not designated for human habitation. In 2018, 552,830 people were homeless on the night of the survey. This population included families with children (33%), youth (6.6%), veterans (6.8%), and adults (53.6%).

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Homelessness in the US has decreased by 15% since 2007, but this reduction has not affected all populations equally. Veterans and families experienced the most notable drops in homelessness. Veteran homelessness decreased by 38%, while homelessness among people in families decreased by 23%. Non-veteran adults who were homeless experienced far less progress, with their rates dropping only 10% between 2007 and 2018.

Historically, shelters have been the predominant acute intervention for homelessness. But homeless service providers only have the capacity to offer temporary beds to 70% of people experiencing homelessness on a given night. This leaves 30% without access to adequate nighttime residence.

Databyte via PITbars, Jackie Janosko, 28 Oct. 2019.