(CNSNews.com) - On a single night in January 2017, more than half a million people -- 553,742 of them -- were homeless, based on the the government's national estimate.
That's an increase of 0.7 percent from January 2016, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development says the increase is largely attributed to the jump in unsheltered homeless people in larger cities in the West Coast (some of them sanctuary cities, by the way).
“In many high-cost areas of our country, especially along the West Coast, the severe shortage of affordable housing is manifesting itself on our streets,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “With rents rising faster than incomes, we need to bring everybody to the table to produce more affordable housing and ease the pressure that is forcing too many of our neighbors into our shelters and onto our streets."
According to HUD's 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report:
-- The 553,742 homeless people counted on a single night in January 2017 has declined 13.1 percent since 2010.
-- Most homeless persons (360,867) were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while 192,875 persons were unsheltered.
-- The number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined 5.4 percent since 2016 and 27 percent since 2010.
-- Veteran homelessness increased 1.5 percent (or 585 persons) since January 2016, primarily in California cities. Since 2010, however, Veteran homelessness declined nationally by 46 percent. On a single night in January 2017, 40,056 veterans were experiencing homelessness.
-- Chronic or long-term homelessness among individuals increased 12.2 percent over 2016 levels though declined by 18 percent (or 19,100 persons) since 2010.
-- The number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children in 2017 is estimated to be 40,799. This year, HUD and local communities said they launched a more intense effort to more accurately account for this important, difficult to count population.
“The fact that so many parts of the country are continuing to reduce homelessness gives us confidence that our strategies -- and the dedicated efforts of communities to embrace best practices -- have been working,” said Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council of Homelessness. “At the same time, we know that some communities are facing challenges that require us to redouble our efforts across all levels of government and the public and private sectors, and we are committed to doing that work.”
HUD’s national estimate is based on data reported by approximately 3,000 cities and counties across the nation.
Every year on a single night in January, planning agencies called "Continuums of Care” and tens of thousands of volunteers fan out in areas where homeless are known to be, to identify the number of individuals and families living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered settings.
HUD says these one-night ‘snapshot’ counts, as well as full-year counts and data from other sources (U.S. Housing Survey, Department of Education), are crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress toward reducing it.
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