500k+ homeless in US, numbers rise in New York, other big cities…(Recovery!)

Friday, November 20, 2015
By Paul Martin

20 Nov, 2015

About 565,000 people were homeless in the United States, according to a one-night federal survey. While this is a two percent drop from 2014, major cities like New York, Seattle and Los Angeles continue to battle rising homelessness.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found that of the 565,000 homeless counted during a point-in-time survey conducted in January, a quarter of them were children below the age of 18.

The total number of homeless represented a two percent decrease from 2014, and an 11 percent drop from 2007.

Point-in-time counts consider those sleeping in shelters, in subsidized transitional housing, or on the streets. Advocates say, though, that there are likely many more who are homeless but aren’t accessible to the department’s survey, such as those sleeping on a friend’s couch.

Furthermore, advocates aren’t impressed with a slight decline in national numbers given the ongoing, if not worsening, homeless crisis in large urban areas of the US. They say a sluggish recovery from the Great Recession, along with rising housing costs, stagnant or falling wages, and a political contempt for social welfare programs are reasons for high homeless rates in cities.

“I am glad it’s trending downward, but a 2 percent change (nationally) is pretty much flat,” Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness told Reuters.

“We are 7 million units short of affordable housing for low-income people – that’s a big gap,” Roman added.

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