In December 2018 the US Department of Urban Housing and Development released the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report, providing insight on the state of our national homelessness crisis in 2018. To read the full report please click here.
Despite some criticisms that the assessment falls short on effectively reflecting the entire picture of housing needs, it does succeed in giving us a basis to determine what has or hasn’t been working nationally as we strive to reduce the homelessness crisis.
Among some of the more notable findings is the progress that has been made with specific populations of the homeless, such as families and veterans. The number of people experiencing homelessness in families with children has continued to be on the decline, going down two percent between 2017 and 2018, and down by 23 percent over the last 11 years between 2007 and 2018. Additionally, the number of veterans in circumstances of homelessness, both sheltered and unsheltered, has declined by five percent between 2017 and 2018 and has dropped by 48 percent since 2009.
However, homelessness nationally across all populations has increased for the second year in a row at a 0.3 percent increase on a single night between 2017 and 2018. Between 2017 and 2018, the population of unsheltered individuals increased by two percent (or 4,300 people).
Another valuable takeaway from the assessment is the undeniable prevalence of racial disparity in the homelessness system. While making up just 13% of the overall US population, African Americans account for 40% of the homeless population and 51% of individuals experiencing homelessness in a family. This data illuminates the need for a rise in awareness and action to address the deep-seated racial inequity in homelessness and access to preventative and emergency services.
Additionally, the AHAR further demonstrates the degree of the nation’s housing crisis and the need for emphasis on affordable housing regardless of homelessness. The areas with the highest concentration of individuals experiencing homelessness (New York, Oregon, California, Hawaii, and Washington) are directly linked to some of the highest housing costs in the nation.
Overall, the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report reveals the need for continued advocacy and action by all communities and homeless and governmental agencies. Where there is progress we should celebrate and continue to strive to generate sustainability within the areas of improvement.. Where there is regression we need to dig deeper and find better and more impactful solutions that address racial disparities and prevent homelessness. At My Dog Is My Home we continue to advocate for accessible shelter to expand the reach of shelters and homeless services, increasing capacity and reducing the number of unsheltered individuals by shifting the definition of family from human-centric to a human-animal lens. We hope wherever your focus is on with this national homeless crisis that 2019 is the year where we all work together to truly turn the tide on homelessness.