While the housing market is still very expensive for most families, the number of homeless individuals continues to decrease. Even though low income families are struggling to keep up with paying their rent or mortgage, as the result of HUD funding there has been an over 20% reduction in the number of people that are homeless on an given night at the start of 2016.
This is very good news for tens of thousands of families that now have a place to live. While it is estimated that HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funding, which is over 1 billion dollars per year, has helped make a difference, another factor is the strong job market. The unemployment rate is now down to 5%, and a job of course is critical for a family to end the cycle of homelessness.
The 22% reduction is the results of billions of federal government dollars being put towards homeless prevention as well as rapid rehousing programs. This increase in resources has occurred throughout the last few years, and about 1.6 billion dollars more are accepted to be paid out in 2016. The money is flowing to local non-profits which then get the funds to those who need it. The HUD Secretary, who is currently Julián Castro, states that almost 500 non-profits in all 50 states are given some form of federal funding.
The overall homeless rate is down 22%. While that still means that over 500,000 people still do not have a stable place to live, there are “only” an estimated 20,000 youth and young adults that are homeless. While even one is too many, the fact that the number is around 20,000 is definitely good news as this is just a fraction of the overall youth population.
The results also vary by city and even county. In New York City, the homeless rates are actually 91% greater than it was 10 years ago, according to the Homeless Coalition. The rates in Los Angeles are up over 50% since 2013 to over 11,000 individuals. Yet the chronically homeless in another major city (Dallas) is down about 30% according the HUD results. So there are often mixed results.
The Obama administration is a big driver in trying to help end this national tragedy. They have created the Continuum of Care (CoC) grant program, and we have extensive information on the site as to where to apply for those funds. CoC provides what is known as Tier 1 as well as Tier 2 funds to the community, and they pay for shelter, rehousing, motel programs, and subsidized rent.
If you are homeless
If you are homeless and need assistance, call a local non-profit and refer to the Continuum of Care (CoC) or ESG programs. There is generally one agency that takes the lead in each county/region of the country in running these homeless prevention programs. They are involved in the overall administration of the grant program. But each “lead agency” will also partner with dozens of other charities in the region, ranging from churches to the United Way and many charities. All of these groups partner together, with HUD, to bring down homeless rates.
Generally, HUD will state try to place you into a shelter for immediate relief, which is a tier 1 service. Then, as the situation stabilizes, the Continuum of Care (CoC) tier 2 rehousing services start up, which seeks a permanent home for the client. These two resources have combined to reduce the homeless levels by that 20%, so just maybe it will help you too. You should never hesitate to seek some form of help when homeless, or near it.