HUD released The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), Part 1, which provides estimates of homelessness in the U.S. The 2019 report estimates 568,000 people were experiencing homelessness in January 2019, which reflects a 3% increase since 2018 but a 12% decrease since 2007. Although the number of people staying in sheltered locations fell by 0.5% between 2018 and 2019, the number of people unsheltered rose by 9%.
The AHAR summarizes estimates of homelessness at the national, state, and Continuum of Care (CoC) levels based on data from the annual point-in-time (PIT) counts of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. Continuums of Care are local planning bodies responsible for coordinating homelessness services. The PIT counts, conducted by local volunteers, are a “snapshot” of homelessness.
Sixty-three percent of the people experiencing homelessness were staying in sheltered locations, such as emergency shelters, transitional housing, or safe havens. Thirty-seven percent were unsheltered, living in places not meant for human habitation, such as streets, parks, vehicles, or abandoned buildings. In five states—Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Oregon—more than half of all people experiencing homelessness were found in unsheltered locations. By contrast, in Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and North Dakota, at least 95% of people experiencing homelessness were sheltered. New York manages to have one of the lowest unsheltered rates in the country despite having the second largest population of people experiencing homelessness (92,091).
Roughly 30% (171,670) of the homeless population in January 2019 were in families with children. The average homeless family household consisted of three people. The number of homeless people in families with children declined by 5% from January 2018 and by 27% since January 2007. Ninety-one percent of people experiencing homelessness in families with children were staying in sheltered locations.
Twenty-seven percent (152,698) of the homeless population were youths under the age of 25. The PIT count found 35,038 unaccompanied youths under the age of 25, which represented 6% of the total population experiencing homelessness. Slightly more than half of unaccompanied homeless youths were staying in sheltered locations—a much higher rate than for all people experiencing homelessness (37%). There were also 7,564 homeless parenting youths under the age of 25.
African Americans remained overrepresented among the homeless population compared to the U.S. population. Whereas they represent 13% of the U.S. population, African Americans accounted for 40% of all people experiencing homelessness in 2019. Whites account for 77% of the total U.S. population but only 48% of all people experiencing homelessness. Unsheltered homelessness increased across all racial groups from 2018 to 2019, with the largest absolute increases among whites (an increase of 5,592 or 5%) and African Americans (an increase of 5,288 or 10%). The number of unsheltered Native Americans increased by 2,200, or 28%.
Eight percent of homeless adults (37,085) were veterans, of whom 61% were sheltered and 39% were unsheltered. Nearly all homeless veterans were experiencing homelessness as individuals (98%) rather than as members of families with children. Veteran homelessness declined by 2% between 2018 and 2019, with an overall decline of almost 50% since 2009.
Nearly half of the homeless population was concentrated in three states: California (27%), New York (16%), and Florida (5%). Between 2018 and 2019, 29 states and the District of Columbia experienced a decline in their homeless population, while homelessness increased in the 21 other states. The largest absolute increases were observed in California, Oregon, Georgia, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, and Washington saw the largest absolute decreases. From 2007 to 2019, the homeless population increased in 13 states and the District of Columbia and declined in 37 states.
“What the report did not say: homelessness is solvable,” said NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel in press statement on the report. “We have proven solutions to end homelessness and, in the wealthiest nation in the world, we have the resources to solve the problem. We lack only the political will to fund the solutions at the scale necessary.”
The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, Part 1 is available at: https://bit.ly/2QCnBbM
Read Diane Yentel’s press statement at: https://bit.ly/2tJ9GaS