U.S. homeless population rises for first time in 7 years

The Housing for Health program launched in 2012 and provides housing to some of LA’s many unsheltered residents.    
   Andrew V Marcus | Shutterstock

Homelessness among families with children declined 14.2 percent across the state since 2016.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point in Time count Wednesday, a report that showed almost 554,000 homeless people across the country during local tallies conducted in January. Since 2010, however, veteran homelessness in IL declined by 23.7 percent and by almost 46% nationally.

Of the latest count, 193,000 people had no access to nightly shelter and instead they were staying in vehicles, tents, the streets and other places defined as uninhabitable. Nationally, the overall homeless number was down by 13 percent since 2010 and the unsheltered number has dropped by 17 percent over that seven-year span, although some changes in methodology and definitions over the years can affect comparisons. The 5,485 unsheltered people counted in the county in 2017 represent a 21 percent increase over last year's tally.

HUD also had the fifth-highest rate of homeless families with children in the country. The creep is due in part to significant increases in big metro areas in California, New York and Texas.

At least 10 city and county governments in the West Coast declared states of emergency in response to the explosion in homelessness.

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Rents have soared beyond affordability for many lower-wage workers who until just a just few years ago could typically find a place to stay.

- Most homeless persons, 8,541 ( or 79.1% ), were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while total 2,257 ( or 26.4% ), persons were unsheltered.

The Buffalo City Mission reports that an estimated 5,500 individuals are homeless in WNY - with over half experiencing homelessness for the first time. A shortage of affordable housing was partially responsible.

In California, the number of people living without permanent shelter rose by almost 14percent, the report shows. Veteran homelessness decreased 9 percent ( or 85 persons ) since January 2016.

HUD will treat 2017 as a baseline year for purposes of tracking progress toward reducing youth homelessness.

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In San Diego, the number of homeless veterans went down about 10 percent and now is 12 percent of the total homeless population.

Those places that saw a dwindling homelessness included Atlanta, Philadelphia, Miami, the Denver area and Hawaii.

The numbers come from an annual report to Congress, released Wednesday, that is based on HUD-mandated "point in time" counts done every January in 3,000 cities and counties across America.

-Fourth in the number of homeless individuals (as opposed to those in families), 7,571.

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