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24th January
2011
written by naehblog

Research Associate Pete Witte guest blogs today on the most commonly used terms in our State of Homelessness report.

Many readers of this blog are familiar with homeless terms and jargon, such as “chronic homeless,” “permanent supportive housing beds,” “persons in families,” “youth homeless,” and so on. While you may be familiar with the homeless terms, there are always very specific definitions for each term. This is especially true and important when it comes to data in research reports. We all want to be on the same page when we discuss the data!

While future blog posts about the State of Homelessness will go into greater depth on specific economic or demographic factors, I want to define the report’s four economic and demographic terms today so you have a clear understanding what we are discussing.

For each economic factor we essentially tried to capture a data point that would either reveal increased or decreased economic vulnerability across time. And for the demographic factors, we tried to capture a data point that would show increased or decreased risk among populations who are at high risk of homelessness.

Here are the definitions for the report’s terms:

  • Severe housing cost burdened households are the number of households who are in poverty and spend more than 50 percent of their total household income on rent (by household, this could be a single person, a couple with children, or an extended family of ten people).
  • The number of people who are unemployed is the number of people who are out of a job and actively looking for work.
  • Average income among poor workers is the number of dollars that an individual earns over a 12 month period. Here, we restricted the population by those people who were classified as living under the federal definition of poverty and included only those who worked 27 weeks or more over the past 12 months.
  • Foreclosed properties are the number of housing units that have at least one foreclosure note over the course of the past year.
  • Doubled up people are individuals or members of a family who live with another family or friends due to economic need. For the purposes of this report, doubled up is restricted by income (those who earn at or less than 125 percent of the federal poverty line).
  • People Released from Prison are individuals who were released from state or federal prisons or jails.
  • Youth aged out of foster care are the number of young people who left foster care with the status of emancipation. The age of the children included those up to age 18, unless they remained wards of the state beyond that age.
  • Uninsured population is the number of people who lack insurance coverage as reported to the American Community Survey. (Those who had Indian Health Service coverage were considered uninsured for the purposes of this report, but that population is miniscule.)

We’ll go into greater depth on a number of these terms in future posts. In the meantime, we’d love to hear if you have any thoughts or questions about the definitions, let us know in the comments!

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