This comprehensive examination not only reveals national and state level homeless counts, but also delves into economic indicators and demographic drivers – taking an in-depth look at risk factors for homelessness. Built upon the most recent nationally available data from the federal Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Justice, and other public information sources, this report analyzes the effect the recession has had on homelessness and how it has contributed to an increased risk of homelessness for many Americans.
The State of Homelessness in America report consists of four major sections. Chapter 1 chronicles annual changes in overall homelessness and homelessness among families and other subpopulations. Chapter 2 demonstrates how economic risk factors, including unemployment, have increased during the recent economic recession. Chapter 3 identifies some specific populations, including doubled-up people and youth aging out of foster care, that are at increased risk of homelessness and documents trends in the sizes of those populations. Chapter 4 identifies a series of states, including California, Florida, and Nevada, that face multiple risk factors for worsening homelessness.
Key Findings of the Report on Homelessness:
- The nation’s homeless population increased by approximately 20,000 people from 2008 to 2009 (3 percent increase). There were also increased numbers of people experiencing homelessness in each of the sub-populations examined in this report: families, individuals, chronic, unsheltered.
A majority – 31 of 50 states and the District of Columbia – had increases in their homeless counts. The largest increase was in Louisiana, where the homeless population doubled.
Among sub-populations, the largest percentage increase was in the number of family households, which increased by over 3,200 households (4 percent increase). Also, the number of persons in families increased by more then 6,000 people (3 percent increase). In Mississippi, the number of people in homeless families increased by 260 percent.
After population reductions from 2005 to 2008, the number of chronically homeless people in the country remained stagnant from 2008 to 2009, despite an 11 percent increase in the number of permanent supportive housing units.
While most people experiencing homelessness are sheltered, nearly 4 in 10 were living on the street, in a car, or in another place not intended for human habitation. In Wisconsin, twice as many people experienced homelessness without shelter in 2009 as did in 2008.
It is widely agreed upon that there is a vast undercount of the number of young people experiencing homelessness. Underscoring this is the fact that 35 percent of all communities reported that there were no homeless youth in their communities in 2009.
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