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Homelessness Up Across All Groups, Underscoring Lack of Affordable Housing and Loss of COVID-Era Protections
Rockville, Md. – On a single night in 2023, roughly 653,100 people were experiencing homelessness—a 12-percent increase from 2022—according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. This marks the largest increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness year-to-year (an additional 70,650 from last year) since reporting began in 2007. Abt Global produces the report on behalf of HUD.
“The rise reflects a perfect storm of economic instability in the wake of COVID, a relentlessly unaffordable housing market, and the sunsetting of programs that really provided concrete supports for people,” said Meghan Henry, Ph.D., Abt’s AHAR project director. “Federal initiatives like the eviction moratorium and funds from the Economic Recovery Act really made a difference in people’s lives. Without similar resources, more people likely will experience homelessness.”
The increases can be seen across demographics:
People who identify as Hispanic or Latin(a)(e)(o) made up the group with the largest increase in homelessness, with an additional 39,106 people representing a 28-percent increase from 2022.
People who identify as Black, African American, or African, as well as indigenous people (including Native Americans and Pacific Islanders), continue to be overrepresented among those experiencing homelessness.
People who identify as Black make up just 13 percent of the total U.S. population, but comprised 37 percent of all people experiencing homelessness, an over-representation of almost 300 percent.
Traditionally under-represented in the point-in-time (PIT) count, people who identify as Asian or Asian American experienced the biggest change, with a 40-percent increase from 2022 (3,313 more people).
More than 98,000 people experiencing homelessness were aged 55 to 64, and nearly half (46 percent) were experiencing unsheltered homelessness in places not meant for human habitation. Almost 39,700 people were over age 64, accounting for more than 20 percent of people who were unhoused.
While we have seen consistent declines in the number of veterans experiencing homelessness, the trend was reversed in the last year. The number of veterans experiencing homelessness increased by 7 percent (2,445 more veterans, up to 35,574) between 2022 and 2023. That said, as a percentage, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness is 52 percent lower than it was in 2009, the first year for reporting veterans experiencing homelessness in the AHAR.
“These increases across the board demonstrate a variety of challenges, from job equity to housing affordability,” said Eduardo Castellon, Abt Vice President of Hosing and Asset Building. “As a long-time partner to HUD supporting AHAR and providing technical assistance on programs ranging from credit counselling to housing affordability to homeless interventions, we are keenly aware of the magnitude of this shift, and how the contrast between this year and last underscores the importance of investing in resources that directly help those in need.”
“These increases indicate some significant additional challenges in the near future,” added Henry. “Many shelters are operating at or over capacity as the number of people who need shelter services grows, and the housing market makes it increasingly difficult to help people secure permanent housing and transition out of the experience of homelessness. This is part of the reason we’re seeing an increase in homeless encampments. Further, the aging population will have a host of additional health problems, like dementia, that will increasingly challenge our health systems. This isn’t just a growing humanitarian crisis, it’s a health crisis.”
Six in 10 people were experiencing sheltered homelessness—meaning they were in an emergency shelter, transitional housing, or a safe haven program—while the remaining four in 10 were experiencing unsheltered homelessness in places not meant for human habitation.
About Abt Global Abt Global is a global consulting and research firm that combines data and bold thinking to improve the quality of people's lives. We partner with clients and communities to advance equity and innovation—from creating scalable digital solutions and combatting infectious disease, to mitigating climate change and evaluating programs for measurable social impact. https://www.abtglobal.com