Homelessness Declines Nationally, but Lack of Affordable Housing Threatens Progress
Washington, DC – During a period of economic growth for the nation when unemployment decreased in nearly every state, the rate of homelessness fell by just 2.3 percent, and the number of people at risk of homelessness has yet to return to pre-recession levels. This according to “The State of Homelessness in America 2015” report from the Alliance's Homelessness Research Institute.
Though national data show that targeted funding for homeless programs is reducing homelessness, the number of low-income people living in doubled-up situations with family and friends is growing, and the number of poor renter households who must pay more than 50 percent of their income toward housing remains at a historic high, demonstrating that the affordable housing crisis is threatening progress.
"Communities have worked hard to take advantage of the improvement in the economy, and we have reduced the number of people who experience homelessness," said Nan Roman, president and CEO of the Alliance. “This is good news, but the increase in rents is outpacing what low income people earn, leaving a growing number of people at risk of homelessness in the future."
The report examines national and state trends in homelessness, risk of homelessness, and the assistance that is available for people experiencing homelessness.
Overall homelessness declined 2.3 percent from 2013, during the economic recovery, with 37 states, including Washington, DC, and territories, showing declines in overall homelessness (homelessness increased in 23).
The risk of homelessness is not declining despite the recovery from the recession. 7.7 million people were living with family and friends in 2013, an increase of 67 percent since 2007. There were 6.4 million poor households paying most of their income on housing in 2013, an increase of 25 percent since 2007.
The nation is in the midst of a shift toward Housing First interventions like permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing, with rapid re-housing capacity nearly doubling from 2012 to 2013 – from about 20,000 to 38,000 beds.
On a given night, about 154,000 more people were experiencing homelessness than there were beds available to assist them.