HUD Releases Homeless Estimates for 2013

written by Sam Batko
November 21, 2013

If you are a homeless service provider, keep up the good work! On the whole, what we are doing nationally is working! According to volume 1 of the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report that the Department of Housing and Urban Development released today, overall homelessness decreased nearly 4 percent from 2012 to 2013. Nearly 25,000 more people were homeless on one night in January 2012 than in January 2013. In fact, homelessness decreased in all of the major subpopulations of note from 2012 to 2013: people in families, unsheltered people, veterans, individuals, and chronically homeless individuals.

Some highlights from the report:

  • Homelessness in the U.S. declined by 4 percent from 2012 to 2013, from 633,782 to 610,040;
  • Unsheltered homelessness (people living in places not meant for human habitation) has decreased 23 percent since 2007 and 11.6 percent from 2012 to 2013;
  • Family homelessness decreased 7.2 percent 2012 to 2013; and
  • Chronic homelessness and veteran homelessness both continued steady multi-year decreases, declining 7.3 percent and 7.6 percent respectively from 2012 to 2013.

There is also some new data in the report. For the first time, unaccompanied youth ages 18 to 24 were differentiated. Communities identified a total of 40,727 youth ages 18-24. There were also 16,539 people identified as being members of chronically homeless families and 4,456 female veterans experiencing homelessness. These new data points give a much more detailed vision of need across the country.

In some part, these decreases are probably due to an improving economy, but that is not the only factor in play. Communities across the country are to be commended. Federal funding sources dedicated to homelessness have not increased appreciably, with the exception of dollars targeted specifically toward veterans. Instead, it is local providers and local communities implementing effective strategies and targeting resources more efficiently. These strategies include permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people, rapid re-housing for families and individuals, and a focus on getting people off the streets.

Still, homelessness is not ended. Yet. And housing costs continue to increase, incomes have decreased, affordable housing is becoming more and more scarce, and the number of people doubling up in housing continues to grow. Despite the great progress being made, these decreases are not sufficient to meet the Administration’s ambitious goals of ending chronic and veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

Congress and the Administration need to increase investment in interventions that work and communities need to continue the hard work that has gotten us this far. Homelessness can be ended. We are headed the right direction.