The State of Homelessness in America 2013: Chapter 2

written by Sam Batko
April 16, 2013

This month we released The State of Homelessness in America 2013. Each week in April we will be providing a short summary of each chapter of the report through our blog. Last week, we covered Chapter 1 which examined trends in homelessness from 2011 to 2012.

 Last week, we covered Chapter 1 which examined trends in homelessness from 2011 to 2012. What we found were mixed results: chronic and veteran homelessness decreased significantly, while family homelessness increased slightly. These mixed findings are most likely related to changes in policy, such as investment in permanent supportive housing and veteran specific programs, as well as the economic and housing environments in which homelessness occurs. 

We know that, on its most basic level, homelessness is caused by an individual or family being unable to afford housing. Chapter 2 examined both economic and housing factors that impact the ability of a household to afford housing: unemployment, poverty, median income, fair market rent, and vacancy rate were all examined.

The report found that unemployment decreased 7 percent nationally and in nearly every state from 2010 to 2011, but poverty and median household income measures continued to worsen nationally and in the vast majority of states. Also, fair market rent, a measure of modest rents set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, increased by 1.5 percent between 2010 and 2011 nationally, with 38 states seeing an increase in rental costs.  And, vacancy rates decreased nationally, creating a more competitive rental housing market in 2011 than in 2010.

Probably one of the most striking visuals in the report is a chart that compares median income changes from 2007 to 2011. As you can see, median income decreased over 8 percent and fair market rent increased over 15 percent, making it much more difficult for low-income households to afford housing.

Make sure to come back next Tuesday when we'll examine Chapter 3 of The State of Homelessness in America 2013.