Report shows significant increase in homeless families living with friends, relatives
WASHINGTON, DC – January 12, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — This morning, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) released a report indicating increases in foreclosures and families experiencing homelessness, including those living doubled up due to economic hardship.
The report shows a 20 percent increase in foreclosures and a four percent increase in the number of families experiencing homelessness in the United States from 2008 to 2009. Last month, a report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors indicated an even greater climb in family homelessness – showing increases of an average of nine percent in cities across the country. In addition to an increase in the number of families living on the streets or in emergency shelters, the NAEH report shows a 12 percent increase in the number of families staying on the floors and couches of their family and friends homes, or doubled up.
These families are not just inconvenienced; they are homeless, said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. The effects of the foreclosure crisis are far-reaching: homeowners, renters, families, and individuals have all found themselves victims of the crisis.”
Thus far, federal assistance has been inadequate to meet the needs of homeless families. For example, school data indicates large increases in homeless children and youth in cities nationwide. In June, the National Center for Homeless Education reported nearly 1 million homeless kids were enrolled in the 2008-2009 school year. This 41 percent increase over the previous two school years has placed financial pressure on school districts who must expend more resources to ensure transportation and other services to homeless students and their families. Though they are federally required to do so, the government has not provided adequate funding to assist districts in meeting the demand for these services.
It is critical that school districts receive more funding to accommodate the needs of homeless students in these difficult times. Education is a key tool for homelessness prevention, and without access to stable schooling, homeless children are more likely to become homeless adults, Foscarinis said.
Additionally, many families living in doubled up situations are currently ineligible for federal assistance through the primary homeless housing programs. The Homeless Children and Youth Act, introduced in Congress by Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL) last week, would expand the Department of Housing and Urban Developments (HUD) definition of homeless so that more homeless children and youth living doubled up and in hotels could access HUDs homeless assistance programs.
These dramatic increases in the homeless population have spurred advocates to both support efforts like Biggerts to improve access to programs and to call for more resources from the federal government.
Foscarinis said, It is time for our lawmakers, and the public, to treat homelessness like the human rights crisis it is. In the new Congress, rather than cutting safety net funds, we must focus on adding more funding for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.