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NLIHC Statement on HUD’s Release of 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR): Part 2

Washington, D.C. – HUD released yesterday its 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR): Part 2. The 2021 AHAR: Part 2 is an annual estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S., with a focus on sheltered homelessness. The 2021 AHAR Part 2 covers the period of October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, and finds that during this period, sheltered homelessness decreased by 17% compared to 2019. Family homelessness decreased by 25% over the same period.

During the year covered by the report, the federal government provided – at the urging of advocates and impacted people – historic protections and resources to get and keep the lowest-income people housed, including a national moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent and $46.55 billion in emergency rental assistance. These and other unprecedented pandemic-era resources helped stave off a catastrophic increase in evictions and, in the worst cases, homelessness.

“In response to warnings from advocates and impacted people, Congress provided never-before-seen resources and protections to keep millions of renters stably housed during the pandemic, and the success of these protections is shown by the decrease in homelessness over that same period,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “But just as those protections expired and resources were depleted, renters with the lowest incomes reentered a brutal housing market, with skyrocketing rents and increased costs for food, gas, and other necessities. Now, renters with the lowest incomes are struggling more than ever, eviction filings have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and, as a result, homelessness is increasing in many communities. Absent continued significant action from Congress, the affordable housing and homelessness crises in this country will only continue to worsen.”

Our country faces a severe shortage of over 7.3 million homes that are affordable and available for renters with the lowest incomes – a shortage that worsened significantly during the pandemic. Without affordable, available options, more than 8.1 million (73%) of the nation’s 11 million extremely low-income renter households have been left severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on rent and utilities alone. With so much money going to keep a roof over their heads, renters with the lowest incomes are forced to live precariously, always one unexpected expense – for a broken-down car or unreimbursed medical bill – away from housing instability, eviction, and, in the worst cases, homelessness.

To fully address the affordable housing and homelessness crises, Congress must provide the significant, long-term investments needed to make rental assistance universally available, preserve and expand the existing affordable housing stock, fund a permanent emergency rental assistance program, and implement robust tenant protections.

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