HUD REPORTS CONTINUING DECLINE IN U.S. HOMELESSNESS IN 2013
Local communities report homelessness rose in Massachusetts
BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released its latest national estimate of homelessness, noting reductions in every major category or sub-population since 2010, the year the federal government established a strategic plan to end homelessness. HUD's 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress finds significant and measureable progress to reduce the scale of long-term or 'chronic' homelessness as well as homelessness experienced by Veterans and families.
Meanwhile, local homeless housing and service providers in Massachusetts reported that the number of sheltered and unsheltered persons increased by 2,383 individuals since 2010.
|Homelessness in Massachusetts
|Total # of homeless persons
"We're making real and significant progress to reduce homelessness in this country and now is not the time to retreat from doing what we know works," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "If we're going to end homelessness as we know it, we need a continued bipartisan commitment from Congress to break the cycle trapping our most vulnerable citizens between living in a shelter or a life on the streets. I understand these are tough budget times but these are proven strategies that are making a real difference. We simply can't balance our budget on the backs of those living on the margins."
Barbara Fields, HUD's New England Regional Administrator, added, "Local housing and service providers in Massachusetts are on the front lines of helping us battle homelessness and they need our help if we're going to cross the finish line."
Nearly 20 percent of homeless people were counted in either Los Angeles (nine percent of total or 53,798) or New York City (11 percent of total or 64,060). Los Angeles experienced the largest increase among major cities, reporting 11,445 more homeless people (or 27 percent) in 2013 compared to 2012. New York City reported 7,388 more homeless people (or 13 percent).
HUD's annual 'point-in-time' estimates measure the scope of homelessness on a single night in January of each year. Based on data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties, last January's one-night estimate reveals an eight percent drop in homelessness among veterans and a seven percent reduction among those experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness.
During one night in late January of 2013, local planning organizations or "Continuums of Care" across the nation and in Massachusetts conducted a one-night count of their sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. Yearly changes to a state's housing and economic conditions as well as adjustments in local data collection methods can produce significant differences when attempting to compare one year to the next. Still, HUD continues to offer significant guidance and technical support to these Continuums of Care to continually improve the confidence level in these state and local reports as they are incorporated into the annual national homeless estimate.
The Obama Administration's strategic plan to end homelessness is called Opening Doors--a roadmap by 19 federal member agencies of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness along with local and state partners in the public and private sectors. The plan puts the country on a path to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020. The Plan presents strategies building upon the lesson that mainstream housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness.
The decline in veteran homelessness across the country is largely attributed to the close collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on a joint program called HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). Research demonstrates that for those who have been homeless the longest, often living on our streets for years at a time, permanent supportive housing—housing coupled with supportive services to address mental illness, substance addiction, and other challenges—not only ends homelessness for these vulnerable individuals, but also saves the taxpayer money by interrupting a costly cycle of emergency room visits, detoxes, and even jail terms. Since 2008, a total of 58,250 rental vouchers have been awarded and 43,371 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes of their own because of HUD-VASH.
Chronic homelessness among individuals is declining and has done so quite substantially since 2007. This decline is partially attributable to a long-standing push to develop more permanent supportive housing opportunities for those struggling with long-term homelessness who otherwise continually cycle from shelters to the streets.
Read HUD's 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress including state and community-level data.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's Email List.