November 12, 2014
The Department of Housing Urban Development released Part 1 of The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. Part 1 provides Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness. Its key findings include,
- In January 2014, 578,424 people were homeless on a given night. Most (69 percent) were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and the rest (31 percent) were found in unsheltered locations.
- Nearly one-quarter of all homeless people were children under the age of 18 (23 percent or 135,701). Ten percent (or 58,601) were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 66 percent (or 384,122) were 25 years or older.
- Homelessness declined by 2 percent (or 13,344 people) between 2013 and 2014 and by 11 percent (or 72,718) since 2007. (1)
The report notes that in “2010, the Administration released Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, a comprehensive plan to prevent and end homelessness in America.” (3) The plan had four goals:
- Finish the job of ending chronic homelessness in 2015
- Prevent and end homelessness among Veterans by 2015
- Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children by 2020
- Set a path to ending all types of homelessness (3)
HUD claims success on all four fronts:
The number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness declined by 21 percent, or 22,892 people, between 2010 and 2014.
The number of homeless veterans declined by 33 percent (or 24,837 people) since 2010, and most of the decline was in the number of veterans staying in unsheltered locations.
Since 2010 the number of homeless people in families has declined by 11 percent (or 25,690 people).
Overall, homelessness has declined by more than 62,000 people since 2010 (62,042), a 10 percent reduction since the release of Opening Doors. (3)
In many ways, the success of American housing policy comes down to the question — can all Americans have a safe and affordable place to call home? The Administration answers this question in the affirmative. And this report appears to demonstrate that the Administration’s plan to end homelessness is working.
While I am skeptical of claims that we have finally figured out how to systematically address homelessness, I am happy to see that it is trending downward over the last few years. This report was authored by some serious people, including Dr. Dennis Culhane of the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans at the University of Pennsylvania, so there is reason to trust these numbers. One can hope that this trend continues, but given the financial insecurity so many households face, I am worried that it will not.| Permalink