On May 28, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released The State of Homelessness in America 2014. The report is the fourth in a series that assess the nation’s progress toward ending homelessness. Overall homelessness decreased by 3.7% nationwide between 2012 and 2013 according to point-in-time estimates. Many subpopulations also experienced decreases in homelessness, including families (7%), chronically homeless people (7.3%), and veterans (7.3%). Despite the national trend, 20 states had an increase in homelessness. States with the largest increases were North Dakota (200%), South Carolina (33%), South Dakota (27%), Maine (26%), and Vermont (25%).
The report also tracked four economic and housing indicators that may predict future increased need for homelessness assistance: unemployment, poverty, housing cost burden, and incidence of doubling up. Between 2011 and 2012, the number of unemployed persons fell in all but four states. The number of persons in poverty rose slightly (0.6%) nationwide, and 24 states reported an increase in the number of persons in poverty.
By 2012, 6.6 million renter households in poverty experienced severe housing cost burden, paying more than 50% of their income toward rent and utilities. Between 2011 and 2012, 26 states had increased numbers of severely cost burdened poor renter households, with increases greater than 20% in Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming.
The number of poor households living doubled up with friends or family due to financial constraint fell by 0.3 percentage points between 2011 and 2012. However, the number of poor, doubled up households rose by 30% or more in New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wyoming, with an 80.8% increase in Alaska.
Between 2007 and 2013, the number of beds available through permanent supportive housing increased by 51% and the number of emergency shelter beds increased by 13%, while the number of transitional housing beds decreased by 11%. Using 2013 point-in-time counts, the authors estimate that the total homeless population exceeded the number of shelter beds available by 184,000.
According to the report, targeted federal funding through programs such as HUD-VA supportive housing for veterans (HUD-VASH) contributed to the decreasing homelessness rates. However, additional investment in affordable housing is needed to reduce the risk of homelessness among the general population of low income renter households.
The State of Homelessness in America report is at: http://bit.ly/1kKL7wo