Before we dive into the news of the week, I thought it might be helpful to do a quick refresher on the homelessness stats as we know them right now. (Because it never hurts to go over the facts.)
According to the last available Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, released in June of this year and reflecting 2010 data, there are:
- 649,917 people experiencing homelessness on any given night (up 1 percent since the year prior),
- 407,966 of those people are individuals; 241,951 of them are people in families,
- 109,812 of those people are experiencing chronic homelessness; 246,974 of those people are unsheltered.
Yesterday (on to the news portion of this post), the Alliance released a brief based on Census poverty data projecting that an additional 74,000 people would experience homelessness as a result of the rise in deep poverty and the impact of the recession. This rise would constitute a significant, five percent increase in the homeless population. Our thanks to both Mother Jones and the Chicago Reporter for covering this important news.
Poverty, it comes as no surprise, is associated to homelessness. As people have fewer and fewer resources, their housing stability often becomes jeopardized. As USA Today reported this week – and as we’ve discussed before – the number of people experiencing poverty is at historic levels leaving more and more people vulnerable to financial challenges – including homelessness. (Doesn’t help that, despite the people suggest about a softening housing market, affordable housing still eludes many).
The Washington Post reported that despite an extension to TANF that passed the Senate fairly unnoticed last week, the social safety net that protects our lowest-income and most vulnerable friends and neighbors is fraying dramatically. And if Congress and the supercommittee are unable to come together on the federal budget, the consequences could be dire.
But we can help each other. We can work to ensure that federal programs that benefit the vulnerable and poor are protected, even in this fraught political climate. If you’re interested in learning more about federal policy and advocating for homeless assistance programs, let us know! You can email us or check out the website to learn more.