HUD Releases Homeless Estimates for 2013

New HUD estimates on homelessness are out, and they show a decline in overall homelessness.  The number of homeless veterans and people who have been homeless for at least a year has also seen a decline according to the report.  USA Today has more:

“We’ve seen that in one of the most difficult economic periods in this country, we’ve made remarkable progress to reduce homelessness, particularly among veterans and the chronically homeless,” says HUD secretary Shaun Donovan.

He says the drop in the numbers wasn’t just the result of an improving economy. He says the administration has focused its efforts with more housing vouchers and a program called Rapid Re-Housing, which helps with rent and utility costs.

He says HUD has diverted money and expanded grants to cities so they can help more homeless people.

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, questions the data. She says the annual survey undercounts the number of homeless.

She says because the survey counts people in shelters, it ends up counting a shelter’s capacity or the number of beds in a facility. The survey also counts the number of people on the street, but Foscarinis says that is hard to do because volunteers need to go to every bridge, park, cave or parking lot where the homeless might stay.

She says other data show that the number of homeless is actually on the rise. She points to a U.S. Department of Education report that found a record number of homeless children enrolled in public schools during the 2011-12 school year.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has more details:

If you are a homeless service provider, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! On the whole, what we are doing nationally is working! According to volume 1 of the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report that the Department of Housing and Urban Development released today, overall homelessness decreased nearly 4 percent from 2012 to 2013. Nearly 25,000 more people were homeless on one night in January 2012 than in January 2013. In fact, homelessness decreased in all of the major subpopulations of note from 2012 to 2013: people in families, unsheltered people, veterans, individuals, and chronically homeless individuals.

Some highlights from the report:

  • Homelessness in the U.S. declined by 4 percent from 2012 to 2013, from 633,782 to 610,040;
  • Unsheltered homelessness (people living in places not meant for human habitation) has decreased 23 percent since 2007 and 11.6 percent from 2012 to 2013;
  • Family homelessness decreased 7.2 percent 2012 to 2013; and
  • Chronic homelessness and veteran homelessness both continued steady multi-year decreases, declining 7.3 percent and 7.6 percent respectively from 2012 to 2013.

Read the full HUD report here.

See also: New report: Big drops in veteran, chronic homelessness