HUD report shows increase in newly homeless, especially families

written by naehblog
February 24, 2010
I just finished watching this audio slideshow about a homeless family living in a hotel in Wentzville, Missouri. The specificity of the images struck me: the picnic in the parking lot of the Budget Inn, the can of food pantry carrots, the parents’ hands holding.

But it’s a story that’s more and more common: a lost job, a downward spiral, desperate phone calls to service providers, kids learning to cope. In fact, according to HUD’s third quarterly Homelessness Pulse Report, the number of people accessing services for the first time increased by 26% from July to September 2009. Says one homeless outreach worker from Lincoln, NE:

They are the new poor, only homeless because of the economy. These are the people who at the beginning of the 2000s might have been on the edge or middle class. These are people who never thought they’d be in the position they’re in today.

The report is intended to assess the impact of the current economic crisis and determine how unemployment and foreclosures affect homelessness. The seven Continuums of Care that participated – including New York City, Richmond, the state of Kentucky and Lakeland, FL – represent about 12 percent of the country’s overall shelter and transitional housing capacity.

In particular, HUD’s data shows that like the Tranthams in Wentzville, the newly homeless tend to be families: while the total number of newly homeless people accessing services increased by 26%, the rise for newly sheltered families was 38%. In Phoenix, there was a 51% increase in the number of homeless families accessing services.

Here at the Alliance, we’re hard at work on solutions. To learn more, check out the materials from our 2010 Conference on Ending Family Homelessness, now available here.