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11th September
written by naehblog

This month, we continue to the ongoing Geography of Homelessness series with an issue about the prevalence of homelessness in rural and urban areas.

The Alliance began the Geography of Homelessness series to investigate the popular concept of urban homelessness (and to make use of new homeless information collected by the Department of Housing and Urban Development).

The Alliance began be defining all existing Continuums of Care (CoC) into one of five categories: rural, mostly rural, mixed, mostly urban, and urban. After defining each of the CoCs, we counted up how many were rural, how many were urban, how many were mixed, etc. Ultimately, we concluded – as is explained by the first issue of the Geography series – that 77 percent of those people who were experiencing homelessness were doing so in an urban environment.

In this second issue, we look into the prevalence of homelessness in each of these area types. While it is popularly accepted homelessness tends to be an urban phenomenon, it is also widely known that rural areas have higher rates of poverty, deep poverty, and other characteristics that are commonly associated with homelessness. We try to reconcile these two ideas in this second issue of the Geography series.

The Alliance calculated the rate of homelessness in all the CoCs, counting the number of people experiencing homelessness per 10,000 people in the community.

The Alliance found while the two communities with the highest rates of homelessness were – in fact – rural communities, as a whole, rural communities had about half the rate of homelessness as most urban communities. Thereby, perhaps, adding fuel to the idea that homelessness is concentrated in urban areas.

Above, Meghan Henry – Alliance Research Associate – explains the conclusions from the second part of the Geography series. Fore more information about the Geography series or to read the second issue in its entirety, please visit the website.

1 Comment

  1. povertyandpolicy

    Although the NAEH geography project is interesting, I suspect the findings are skewed by bad data. According to Part II of the online report, the homeless figures come from the 2007 homelessness counts. This, of course, means that countless (pun intended) homeless people were excluded because they didn't fit HUD's definition of "homeless." Unfortunately, the HEARTH Act will perpetuate this problem.

    Moreover, I seriously wonder whether all COCs have the capacity to report accurate numbers. Your map shows that some of those classified as rural or mostly rural cover entire states and others all but a small patch. Are they really able to conduct point-in-time counts for the entire area they cover?

    Still, it's very useful to show that homelessness isn't just an urban phenomenon and to look at geographic differences in populations, services, etc.