On Wednesday, January 18, the Alliance released The State of Homelessness in America 2012. The second in a series, this year’s report finds that the slight decrease in homelessness between 2009 and 2011 can be largely attributed to the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), the stimulus-funded program aimed at curbing homelessness resulting from the recession. Moreover, the report found that indicators associated with homelessness, including severe housing cost burden and doubled up households, increased.
The story is basically this: homelessness is down mainly because of HPRP, and risk of homelessness still looms as HPRP funds diminish and risk indicators rise.
A breakdown of major findings:
- The nation’s homeless population decreased 1 percent, or by about 7,000 people between 2009 and 2011; it went from 643,067 (2009) to 636,017 (2011). Most of the examined subpopulations, including families, chronically homeless people, and individuals, experienced a decrease in population. The only increase was among people who were unsheltered.
- The largest decrease was among homeless veterans, whose population declined 11 percent. The number of homeless veterans went from 75,609 in 2009 to 67,495 in 2011, a reduction of about 8,000.
- Chronic homelessness decreased by 3 percent from 110,911 in 2009 to 107,148 in 2011. The chronically homeless population has decreased by 13 percent since 2007. The decrease is associated with an increase in the number of permanent supportive housing units from 188,636 in 2007 to 266,968 in 2011. Permanent supportive housing ends chronic homelessness.
- The number of poor households that spent more than 50 percent of their incomes on rent – defined by HUD as households that are “severely housing cost burdened” – increased by 6 percent from 5.9 million in 2009 to 6.2 million in 2010. Three-quarters of all poor renter households had severe housing cost burdens.
- The “doubled up” population (people who live with friends, family or other nonrelatives for economic reasons) increased by 13 percent from 6 million in 2009 to 6.8 million in 2010. The doubled up population increased by more than 50 percent from 2005 to 2010.
So the work ahead is far from done. The heartening decrease in homelessness, especially in the face of a recession, indicates that the federal intervention to curb and prevent homelessness did what it was supposed to do. But now, as HPRP ends and budgets grow tighter and tighter across all levels of government, people are left still at risk and soon without resources. Without intervention, homelessness could rise in the years to come, as we’ve predicted.
Tell us what’s happening in your neighborhood and if these findings are true for you.
The State of Homelessness can be found on Alliance website: http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/4361.