WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 22, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has just released national data showing that the number of homeless people was essentially unchanged from 2009 to 2010. The number, based on counts conducted by localities and states across the nation in January 2010 (called Point-In-Time [PIT] counts), went from 643,067 to 649,879, an increase of one percent. However, there was a three percent increase in the number of homeless people who were unsheltered. The number of homeless families increased 1.5 percent, and chronic homelessness (people with disabilities who are homeless for long periods of time or repeatedly) declined by 1 percent, continuing a downward trend begun in 2005.
The 2010 PIT counts were the first to reflect the impact of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), the $1.5 billion stimulus-funded program aimed at curbing homelessness resulting from the recession. Housing inventory data released in conjunction with the PIT counts showed that, at the time of the 2010 PIT counts, the stimulus program was funding 19,842 homeless assistance beds.
“In 2009, the Alliance projected that without effective intervention, homelessness would increase dramatically as a result of the recession,” said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “These numbers show that our investment in homelessness prevention and housing-based strategies averted what could have been an alarming increase in the number of Americans experiencing homelessness.”
It is also important to note that the recessions’ full impact on homelessness has yet to be seen. In 2010 the Alliance report The State of Homelessness in America noted that certain key economic factors associated with homelessness were on the rise. These included the number of poor households doubling up (sharing housing with another household), unemployment, and severe housing cost burden. Homelessness is a lagging indicator of economic tides and although the HPRP funds will be available to communities for another year, upward pressures on homelessness will also continue.
“We have done a good job of preventing increases in homelessness by focusing on smart, strategic solutions,” said Roman. “However, we are not out of the woods. Poor people continue to feel the effects of the recession to a disproportionate degree. Federal, state, and local budgets cuts are shredding what safety net we have left. We cannot do more with less forever. We know how to end homelessness, but at the end of the day it will take resources to implement proven housing solutions.”