Federal Figures Show Surge in Homelessness

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(Brett Rowland, The Center Square) – The number of homeless people in the U.S. jumped 12% to more than 653,000 people as pandemic spending expired, the highest level on record since the counts started in 2007.

Figures released Friday provide a snapshot of the number of people in shelters, temporary housing and in unsheltered settings. The report found 653,100 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2023, a 12% increase from 2022. That figure of 653,100 people is equivalent to about 20 of every 10,000 people in the U.S.

The 12% increase is about 70,650 more people, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report: Part 1: Point-in-Time Estimates.

It’s the highest number of homeless people since HUD’s count started in 2007.

The overall increase reflects the increases in all homeless populations. Homelessness among people in families with children experiencing homelessness increased by 16%. Individuals experiencing homelessness increased by 11%.

The increase is likely the result of multiple factors, including growing housing costs, limited affordable housing, the end of pandemic protections that kept people in housing and a surge of migrants in shelters in places like New York City and Chicago, among others, federal officials said.

The states with the highest rate of homelessness were California, Oregon, Hawaii, Arizona and Nevada. The lowest rates were in Vermont, New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, according to the report.

More than half of all people experiencing homelessness were in four states: California (28% of all people experiencing homelessness in the U.S, or 181,399 people); New York (16% or 103,200 people); Florida (5% or 30,756 people); and Washington (4% or 28,036 people), according to the report.

“Homelessness is solvable and should not exist in the United States,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a statement. “We’ve made positive strides, but there is still more work to be done. This data underscores the urgent need for support for proven solutions and strategies that help people quickly exit homelessness and that prevent homelessness in the first place.”

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