The Homelessness Research Institute (HRI) at the National Alliance to End Homelessness predicts that homelessness may increase 5% over the next three years (2010-2013) nationally without additional intervention. The projection is based on unemployment and poverty estimates for the same time period. However, HRI notes that the predicted increase in homelessness can be prevented through investment in evidence-based, cost effective interventions.
HRI reasons that steady unemployment and rising poverty numbers will drive the increase in homelessness. Unemployment, according to the HRI, is predicted to stay near 9% through 2013 and not fall to pre-recession levels until 2016. Likewise, according to figures cited from a Brookings Institution study, poverty rates will rise through 2012 and will stay above 15% through 2014. Poverty is not expected to return to pre-2007 levels until 2020.
Using the poverty projections published by Brookings in September 2011, HRI was able to calculate an estimate of the number of people in deep poverty, defined by incomes below 50% of the federal poverty line. HRI posits that deep poverty puts individuals at high risk for homelessness. The deep poverty projections are applied to a baseline of 1.6 million homeless people, as documented in the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. The estimated increase in homelessness of 5% represents an additional 74,000 homeless people over the next three years.
The estimate does not take into account additional deep cuts that federal, state and local programs may incur in the coming years. If significant funding cuts occur, the homeless population may increase at an even faster pace. Conversely, the projected increase in homelessness is preventable. HRI recommends funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and funding to further the implementation of the HEARTH Act. Additionally, HRI supports further investment in homeless prevention and rapid re-housing programs.
The report, Increases in Homelessness on the Horizon, is available on the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ website at: http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/4226