The National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Homelessness Research Institute have published a report describing changes in national homelessness between 2005 and 2007. The study details the progress made toward ending homelessness nationally, as well as among homeless subpopulations. The data was collected during a time of economic stability. Recent economic conditions have changed dramatically, and current projections show increased utilization of homeless services. The report also discusses how the recession likely affects current and future homelessness.
With the current economic recession, homelessness is expected to increase and many cities have already seen evidence of a rise in the number of homeless in packed shelters and growing tent cities. NAEH estimates that over the next two years 1.5 million additional Americans are likely to become homeless and 5.4 million more people will fall into deep poverty.
As of 2007 there was a 10% decline in homelessness nationwide, and larger percentage declines among families and long-term homeless adults. These declines demonstrate real progress in helping individuals and families back into housing as of 2007. While homelessness did decrease on a national basis, over that time period approximately one-third of states experienced increases in homelessness and rates of homelessness vary widely state to state.
The Homelessness Counts study concludes that a reduction in homelessness is clearly possible during favorable economic times, but there is also an opportunity to prevent additional homelessness over the next two years if emergency rehousing assistance is provided and implemented quickly and at sufficient scale. NAEH calls for $2 billion in homeless prevention funds, 400,000 new housing vouchers, and substantial investment in the National Housing Trust Fund.
The study uses data collected in 2005 as a baseline to analyze changes in homelessness, and is the first of its kind that estimates nationwide changes in the homeless population. This is especially important in order to identify communities that are achieving success and those that are falling behind.
The report, Homelessness Counts: Changes in Homelessness from 2005 to 2007, is available at http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/2158.