HUD Homelessness Report: More Families In Shelters. Fewer People On Street

by devteam June 22nd, 2010 | Share

Thernface of homelessness has changed in the last year, with fewer individuals lackingrnshelter this year than last, but more and more families finding themselves onrnthe street.  </p

This is the conclusion ofrnthe 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress released by thernDepartment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).</p

ThernAHAR report provides the latest counts of the national occurrence ofrnhomelessness among individuals, families, and special population groups such asrnveterans and the chronically homeless. The AHAR is based on two data sources:</p

Excerpts taken from the release…</p<ol

  • Continuum of Care applications are submitted to HUD annually as part of the competitive funding process and provide one-night, Point-in-Time (PIT) counts of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. The PIT counts are based on the number of homeless persons on a single night during the last week in January, and the most recent PIT counts for which data are available nationally were conducted in January 2009.</li
  • Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) are electronic administrative databases that are designed to record and store client-level information on the characteristics and service needs of homeless persons. HMIS data is used to produce counts of the sheltered homeless population over a full year—that is, people who used emergency shelter or transitional housing programs at some time during the course of a year. The 2009 AHAR uses HMIS data for the most recent, one-year reporting period and compares these data to previous HMIS-based findings.</li</ol

    Here are some key findings of the report:</p


    643,000 persons were homeless  when the point-in-time survey was taken in January, morernthan twice that number – 1.56 million people – spent at least one night in arnshelter during the year.  This means thatrnone in every 200 Americans had at least a temporary problem with housing lastrnyear. These number indicate a drop inrn58,000 homeless since the survey was conducted in 2008, a decrease of 5rnpercent. 60 percent of these persons inrnthe snapshot were located in emergency shelters or transitional housingrnprograms; 37 percent were on the street or sheltered in other places not intendedrnfor human habitation.</p

    The report saysrnthat while the snapshot figures have remained fairly stable over the threernyears the report has been produced, there has been a steady decrease of thernnumber of people literally on the street, perhaps indicting community successrnin getting people into shelters or housing.  Thernreport found, however, that the numbers of homeless families are increasing; uprn19,000 or 3.6 percent and representing 37 percent of the population in thernsingle night count.  Families, however,rnare less likely than single adults to be found on the streets. Almost half ofrnhomeless individuals were unsheltered on that night compared with 21 percent ofrnthe families.  </p

    Further,rnwhen families are considered as a single unit rather than as separaternindividuals, the study found 170,000 families were sheltered homeless in 2009,rnan increase of 11,000 or 7 percent between 2008 and 2009. </p

    As a nation, we appear tornbe doing a better job sheltering those who might otherwise be living on ourrnstreets but clearly homelessness is impacting a greater share of families withrnchildren,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “As patterns of homelessness change,rnwe must use the latest data to tailor our response. The Obama Administration isrncommitted to ending homelessness in all its forms.”</p

    Thernnation may also be doing a slightly better job in dealing with chronicrnhomelessness.  National policy hasrnfocused on ending this through funding incentives to develop permanentrnsupportive housing.  The 2009 snapshotrncounted 110,917 chronically homeless in 2009, down from 123,135 in 2008.  The decrease occurred primarily among thernunsheltered population, again perhaps reflecting community outreach efforts.  </p

    People who are homeless byrnthemselves are very different from those who are homeless with children. The single homeless are overwhelmingly male;rnmore than three-quarters are over 30-years-of-age, more than 10 percent are militaryrnveterans, and more than 40 percent have a disability.  Adults in sheltered families arernoverwhelmingly females, under 30, and more than half of their children arernunder six.</p

    Homelessness is heavilyrnconcentrated in the large coastal states; California, New York, and Floridarnaccount for 39 percent of all of the homeless counted in January 2009.  They are heavily concentrated again in urbanrnareas with 72.2 percent of individuals and 61.2 percent of persons in familiesrnlocated in principal cities.  They are alsornpopulating cities at rates above what poverty levels would indicate.  The share of the sheltered population in largerncities in 2009 was nearly twice the share of persons living in poverty – 68.2rnpercent vs. 35.6 percent. </p

    Here are some definitions shared by HUD:</p<ol

  • Individuals: The HMIS-based estimates of sheltered homeless individuals include single adults, unaccompanied youth, persons in multi-adult households, and persons in multi-child households. A multi-adult household is a household composed of adults only—no children are present. A multi-child household is composed of children only (e.g., parenting youth)—no adults are present.</li
  • One-Year Sheltered Counts: 12-month counts of homeless persons who use an emergency shelter or transitional housing program at any time from October though September of the following year. The one-year counts are derived from communities’ administrative databases, or Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).</li
  • Persons in Families: The HMIS-based estimates of homeless persons in families include persons in households with at least one adult and one child.</li
  • Point-in-Time (PIT) Counts: One-night counts of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. The one-night counts are reported on CoC applications and reflect a single-night during the last week in January.</li
  • Principal City: Following guidance from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the AHAR replaces the term “central city” with “principal city.” The largest city in each metropolitan or micropolitan statistical area is designated a principal city, and other cities may qualify if specified requirements (population size and employment) are met.</li
  • Sheltered: A homeless person who is in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program for homeless persons.</li
  • Unsheltered: A homeless person who is living in a place not meant for human habitation, such as the streets, abandoned buildings, vehicles, parks, and train stations.</li</ol

    Thisrn198 page report details many more aspects of homelessness in this country andrnwe will be presenting more information from it in future articles.</p



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  • About the Author


    Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, is a PASBA member accountant located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

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