US Homelessness Reaches All-Time High

Many are without shelter for the first time
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 15, 2023 2:43 PM CST
US Homelessness Reaches All-Time High
In this photo illuminated by an off-camera flash, a tarp covers a portion of a homeless person's tent on a bridge overlooking the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The United States experienced a dramatic 12% increase in homelessness to its highest reported level as soaring rents and a decline in coronavirus pandemic assistance combined to put housing out of reach for more Americans, federal officials said Friday.

  • Main number: About 653,000 people were experiencing homelessness, the most since the country began using the yearly point-in-time survey in 2007 to count the homeless population, per the AP. The total in the January count represents an increase of about 70,650 homeless people compared to a year earlier.

  • First time homeless: The latest estimate also indicated that people becoming homeless for the first time were behind much of the increase, and it ended a downward trend in family homelessness that began in 2012.
  • Other key stats: Within the overall rise, homelessness among individuals rose by nearly 11%, among veterans by 7.4%, and among families with children by 15.5%. People who identify as Black make up just 13% of the US population, but comprised 37% of all people experiencing homelessness. And more than a quarter of adults experiencing homelessness were over age 54.

The US had been making steady progress until recent years in reducing the homeless population as the government focused particularly on increasing investments to get veterans into housing. The number of homeless people dropped from about 637,000 in 2010 to about 554,000 in 2017. The numbers ticked up to about 580,000 in the 2020 count and held relatively steady over the next two years as Congress responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with emergency rental assistance, stimulus payments, aid to states and local governments, and a temporary eviction moratorium.

(More homelessness stories.)

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