HUD cites California numbers as the driver of 2.7% increase in homelessness

A man feeds the pigeons while sitting on 5th Avenue in New York City in this July 2019 photo. The U.S. Department of Housing and Development has reported homelessness increased by 2.7 between 2018 and 2019. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Dec. 22 (UPI) — Homelessness in the United States increased by 2.7 percent between 2018 and 2019, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the release, 567,715 persons experienced homelessness on a single night in 2019 — but there were notable regional variations, it said.

The release noted “significant increases in unsheltered and chronic homelessness on the West Coast, particularly California and Oregon,” that offset decreases in other parts of the country.

“As we look across our nation, we see great progress, but we’re also seeing a continued increase in street homelessness along our West Coast, where the cost of housing is extremely high,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “In fact, homelessness in California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency. Addressing these challenges will require a broader, community-wide response that engages every level of government to compassionately house our fellow citizens who call the streets their home.”

It said homelessness in California increased by 16.4 percent, or 21,306 people. In June, Los Angeles city and county officials reported nearly 60,000 people were homeless in L.A. alone.

The 2019 count marks the third year homelessness has increased in the U.S.

“Without federal leadership, California is making historic investments,” California Governor Gavin Newsom told NBC, referring to a $4 billion statewide housing bond passed in 2018 and a $1.2 billion housing bond passed in L.A. in 2016. “But we have work to do and we need the federal government to do its part.”

In recent months President Donald Trump has been sharply critical of California’s approach to homelessness, saying the problem “hurts the prestige” of cities like San Francisco.

Robert Marbut, the newly appointed executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on homelessness, has echoed that criticism, telling the L.A. Times that California’s approach was not working in a story published Friday.

Marbut replaces Obama appointee Matthew Doherty, who was abruptly ousted in November.

While the rate of unhoused people has increased in recent years, it is still down 11 percent from 2010, according to HUD, and homelessness is down in several populations since 2018 and since the peak of the recession.

The rate of homelessness among veterans is down 2.1 percent from 2018 and 50 percent from 2010, and families with children experienced a 5 percent decrease in homelessness from 2018, and a 32 percent decrease from 2010.

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. reported declines in homelessness, but 21 states reported increases, according to HUD.

The release precedes HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s presentation of the 2019 Annual Homelessness Annual Report to Congress.

The full report has not yet been posted to the section of HUD’s website that includes AHAR reports from previous years, but HUD has published the raw data, which is based on annual point in time counts from about 3,000 cities and counties in the United States.

HUD’s point in time count, carried out by local governments and service providers, is a snapshot census of individuals living on streets and in shelters on a single night in the U.S.


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