Homelessness, Reports and Publications, Supportive Housing

HUD Says Homelessness Remained Unchanged from 2009 to 2010


In its sixth Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) released on June 14, HUD reports that homelessness levels stayed relatively flat from 2009 to 2010. The annual report to Congress provides the latest counts and characteristics of homelessness in the United States.

For the first time, this year's report also provides data about the impact of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing (HPRP) program and the use of permanent supportive housing. HPRP was authorized by the 2009 stimulus bill to prevent homelessness and quickly re-house people who become homeless. The stimulus bill provided $1.5 billion in HPRP funds to city, county and state governments.

Many service providers believe the report represents an undercount. For example, its numbers do not reflect families living in hotels, or doubled up with family or friends out of economic necessity. Homelessness is rising, and we have got to do something about it. These populations are not currently included in the HUD AHAR count despite the passage of the federal HEARTH Act in 2009, which requires that many of them be included in the official definitions of homelessness.

The AHAR report finds that from 2009 to 2010, the overall number of people experiencing homelessness increased slightly from 643,067 to 649,917 (1.07%). The count of homeless in homeless shelters was virtually unchanged, while the number of unsheltered homeless people increased from 239,759 to 246,374 (2.76%). There was a small increase in individual homelessness, from 404,957 to 407,966 people (0.74%), and the number of people in families experiencing homelessness increased from 238,110 to 241,951 (1.61%).

A person is considered to be chronically homeless if he or she has a disabling condition and has been homeless for more than a year, or has had experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the previous three years. From 2009 to 2010, the number of chronically homeless individuals declined from 110,917 to 109,812 (1.0%). The decline in chronic homelessness is more marked when the 2010 numbers are compared to those from 2007. Over the four-year period, the number of chronically homeless individuals decreased 11%, which HUD attributes to an increased investment in permanent supportive housing.

The report notes that, despite an increase in recession-related factors like unemployment, foreclosures, worst-case housing needs, and overcrowded housing that put people at increased risk for homelessness, there was not a corresponding increase in homelessness. HUD speculates that this may be a result of federal investment in permanent supportive housing, as well as in HPRP, which was created to mitigate the impact of the recession on people already at risk of homelessness.

The 2010 AHAR is available here.


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