The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released its 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part 1 to Congress. The report found that 580,466 people experienced homelessness in the United States on a single night in 2020, an increase of 12,751 people, or 2.2 percent, from 2019.
The report found that between 2019 and 2020, homelessness increased significantly among unsheltered populations and people experiencing chronic homelessness. Veteran homelessness did not decrease compared with 2019, and homelessness among family households did not decrease for the first time since 2010. The report also found that people of color are significantly over-represented among people experiencing homelessness.
“The findings of the 2020 AHAR Part 1 Report are very troubling, even before you consider what COVID-19 has done to make the homelessness crisis worse,” said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia L. Fudge. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we are once again putting ‘Housing First’ to end this crisis and build strong, healthy communities, as reflected in the American Rescue Plan. I look forward to working with President Biden to implement this historic package to deliver robust, equitable relief to those experiencing homelessness. Housing should be a right, not a privilege, and ensuring that every American has a safe, stable home is a national imperative.”
“Even a slight pre-pandemic uptick in Veteran homelessness after significant declines since 2010 is extremely concerning,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough. “The Biden Administration’s recommitment to Housing First – a proven strategy and dignified way to help Veterans and others achieve stable, permanent housing – will help accelerate progress in preventing and eliminating Veteran homelessness. The American Rescue Plan will also make a major impact in improving outcomes for Veterans by expanding access to community-based homeless prevention and rapid rehousing services for those who may not qualify for VA care.”
HUD releases the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) in two parts. Part 1 provides Point-in-Time (PIT) estimates, offering a snapshot of homelessness-both sheltered and unsheltered-on a single night. The one-night counts are conducted during the last 10 days of January each year. The PIT counts also provide an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness within particular homeless populations such as individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness and veterans experiencing homelessness.
In 2020, the PIT estimates of people experiencing homelessness in sheltered and unsheltered locations, as well as the number of beds available to serve them, were reported by 396 Continuums of Care (CoC) nationwide. These 396 CoCs covered virtually the entire United States.
The Point-in-Time counts of homelessness and the housing inventory information are based on data from January 2020 and thus do not reflect the health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for levels of homelessness or characteristic of people experiencing homelessness.
Key Findings of HUD’s 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part 1:
· On a single night in January 2020, 580,466 people – about 18 of every 10,000 people in the United States – experienced homelessness across the United States. This represents 2.2 percent increase from 2019.
· After steady reductions from 2010 to 2016, homelessness has increased in the last four consecutive years.
· The increase in homelessness was due to the rise in unsheltered individuals (a 7 percent increase from 2019) and this increase impacted the large increase in individuals experiencing chronic homelessness (a 15 percent increase since 2019). The increase in unsheltered homelessness is driven largely by increases in California and coincide with increases in overall homelessness.
· Veteran homelessness did not decline in 2020. 2020 was the first year that homelessness among family households did not fall since 2010.
· Youth homelessness is slightly down (a 2.2 percent decrease from 2019).
· People of color are significantly over-represented among people experiencing homelessness.
Homelessness Among All People
The total number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2020 is 580,466, an increase of 2.2 percent from January 2019 driven by increases in the unsheltered homeless population. The number of people experiencing homelessness nationwide increased by two percent between 2019 and 2020, or 12,751 more people. This marks the fourth consecutive year that total homelessness has increased in the United States.
On a single night in January 2020, there were 110,528 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, just over one-quarter of all homeless individuals. This is the first time since 2011 that the number of people with chronic patterns of homelessness exceeded 100,000. The number of people experiencing chronic homelessness increased 15 percent from 2019.
On a single night in 2020, nearly four in ten (39 percent or 226,080 people) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of people counted in unsheltered locations rose by 7 percent or 14,787 people. 2020 marks the first time since data collection began that more individuals experiencing homelessness were unsheltered than were sheltered. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of unsheltered individuals increased by 7 percent while the number of sheltered individuals remained largely unchanged. Increases in the unsheltered population occurred across all geographic categories.
There were 171,575 people in families with children who experienced homelessness on a single night in 2020, essentially the same as in 2019. Nine in ten people experiencing homelessness in families with children were sheltered, 154,908 people. Ten percent of people in families with children, 16,667 people, were found in unsheltered locations.
On a single night in January 2020, 37,252 veterans were experiencing homelessness in the U.S., eight percent of all homeless adults. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness increased by less than one percent (167 more people). The increase was entirely among veterans staying in unsheltered places (859 more veterans). However, in 2020 36,115 fewer veterans were experiencing homelessness than in 2009, when these data were first reported, a drop of nearly 50 percent.
Homelessness Among People of Color
African Americans and indigenous people (including Native Americans and Pacific Islanders) remained considerably overrepresented among the homeless population compared to the U.S. population. Almost 4 of every 10 people experiencing homelessness in January 2020 were Black or African American (39 percent or 228,796 people). A higher percentage of people in shelter were Black or African American (47 percent or 167,205 people) than were people experiencing homelessness in unsheltered locations (27 percent or 61,591). Almost a quarter of all people experiencing homelessness, 23 percent, were Hispanic or Latino (counting people of all races who identify as Hispanic or Latino). Together, American Indian, Alaska Native, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian populations account for one percent of the U.S. population, but five percent of the homeless population and seven percent of the unsheltered population.