The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) has completed its release of a three-part series that discusses the geography of homelessness. NAEH aims to use new knowledge about where homelessness is concentrated to contribute to the discussion about the issue and its solutions.
The series uses as study units the 457 Continuum of Care (CoC) networks that are used by the government to award federal homelessness funding. CoCs can encompass areas ranging from individual cities to entire states.
The first part of the series, “Defining the Spectrum,” was released July 16 and discusses homelessness in rural as compared to urban areas. The authors analyze homelessness in rural (74 CoCs), mostly rural (19), urban-rural mix (47), mostly urban (22), and urban (295) communities and find that of the estimated 671,859 people experiencing homelessness, 77% are in urban CoCs.
“Part 2: Prevalence of Homelessness,” released in late August, discussed the rates at which homelessness occurs in the different CoC-classified geographic areas. Urban areas, the brief stated, have the highest rates of homelessness, with approximately 29 per 10,000 people homeless. Mostly urban CoCs were second (19 per 10,000) and rural areas were third (14 per 10,000). The second brief reports that the CoC with the highest rate of homelessness is Detroit, which has 216 people experiencing homelessness per 10,000. Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, which combine to form one CoC, have the highest estimated homeless population: 68,608 (75 per 10,000).
“Part 3: Subpopulations by Geographic Type,” released in late September, categorizes homelessness into three subpopulations: families with children (37% of the homeless population), non-chronically homeless individuals (45%) and chronically homeless individuals (18%). It also examines two subgroups: sheltered, including those in emergency shelters or transitional housing (58%), and unsheltered (42%).
NAEH concludes the third brief with discussion of three observations of note. First, the percent of families with children is the lowest in urban areas, both when compared to other subpopulations and other geographic areas. Second, 66% of the chronically homeless population is unsheltered. This is true across geographic areas and is especially extreme in both rural and urban regions. Lastly, the NAEH observes that the “mostly rural” homeless population is atypical in that families with children are the most likely to be unsheltered, while chronically homeless are the most likely to be sheltered. It is possible that this abnormality could be explained by the low number of CoCs classified as “mostly rural” (only 17 of 457 total), almost all of which are state-wide.
Part 1 of the series can be found at: http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/2437 Part 2 at: http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/2490 and Part 3 at:http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/2529.