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U.S. Homelessness Reaches Unprecedented Levels Not Seen Since 2008

U.S. Homelessness Reaches Unprecedented Levels Not Seen Since 2008

The housing crisis has taken a bitter turn, reaching a level not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently released its annual homelessness count, reporting 653,100 people experienced homelessness in 2023 — a 12% increase from last year. 

The alarming rise, according to HUD, can be attributed to the expiration of pandemic-era safety net expansions, such as eviction moratoria and rental assistance. The American Rescue Plan had temporarily calmed the tide between 2020 and 2022, but with its resources now expired, the pre-pandemic trend from 2016 to 2020 has resurfaced.

In response to HUD’s survey, the National Homelessness Law Center released a statement addressing the trend. 

“We are not surprised by these results,” the organization wrote on their site. “As poverty increases, COVID-era funding and eviction protections sunset, and wages are still too low, it makes sense that homelessness has gone up. Housing is simply out of reach for far too many of us.”

Of those experiencing homelessness, 60 percent were able to find shelter, leaving hundreds of thousands to face the harsh realities of sleeping outdoors or in places not meant for human habitation. Families experiencing homelessness increased 16%, while individuals experienced an 11% rise.

The report spotlighted a particularly dire situation for people of color, with Black individuals constituting 37% of the homeless population, despite comprising only 13% of the country’s total population. Asian Americans saw a 40% surge in homelessness from 2022, while Hispanic or Latino Americans experienced a 28 percent rise from the prior year.

“Unfortunately, the [report] confirms what we have been saying for years: that the rent is too high for a growing number of Americans and that far too many people are just one missed paycheck or health crisis away from becoming homeless,” wrote the NHLC. 

However, advocates caution that HUD’s report may be an undercount. Many unsheltered individuals find refuge in subways, hospital waiting rooms, or doubled-up on couches during the annual count. Methodologies vary at the local level, as government agencies and contracted nonprofits conduct the count. Despite potential undercounts, the report remains the most comprehensive snapshot of the current homelessness crisis, and the situation appears bleak.

“More people are homeless because housing is simply too expensive,” said Antonia Fasanelli, NHLC executive director. “Politicians must resist the false bill of goods being sold by venture fund billionaires that further their arrest and police heavy response to homelessness and stay focused on the proven solution: housing.”

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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