Homelessness effectively remained static from 2017 to 2018, increasing by 0.3%, according to a report Monday from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
However, since 2010 homelessness has declined by more than 13%, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said on a call with reporters.
The year’s small rise was partly due to a “significant increase” in the number of people living in emergency shelters after 2017 natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, according to Carson.
Monday’s report is the first section of a two-part Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress the agency produces at the end of each year.
The data in the report is based on a point-in-time estimate. Across the country during the last 10 days of January each year, researchers conduct one-night counts in “Continuums of Care.” Those are “local planning bodies” that coordinate homelessness services in geographic areas, which can be a city, a county or an entire state, according to the report. The report divides Continuums of Care into major cities, largely urban, largely suburban and largely rural areas.
In the past year, veterans’ homelessness decreased by 5.4%, contributing to the 48% decline in veterans’ homelessness since 2009. The number of people who were homeless and in families with children decreased by 2.7%.
“We still have a long way to go, even though there’s been significant progress made with homelessness,” Carson said during a call with reporters.
He said the areas where the agency is experiencing success in decreasing homelessness were largely a result of “joint operations between federal, state and local” entities.
Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia reported decreases in homelessness from 2017 to 2018, while 19 states reported increases.
Homeless in cities
More than half of the people experiencing homelessness who are unsheltered in the United States are in Continuums of Care that include the country’s 50 largest cities, the report says.
California and New York state, both home to major US cities, have high homeless populations compared with other states. Twenty-four percent of the people experiencing homelessness are in New York City or Los Angeles.
Some 75% of the homeless people in Los Angeles are unsheltered. In New York City, only 5% of people experiencing homelessness are unsheltered, one of the lowest rates in the country.
Homeless in states
California has one of the highest homeless populations in the country. Thirty percent of all people experiencing homelessness live there, and almost half of the unsheltered people in the US are in the state, according to the report. However, the state also had one of the largest decreases in homelessness since last year, at 1.2%, the report says.
Half of all homeless people live in California, New York state, Florida, Texas or Washington state, according to the report.
While New York has a high number of homeless people compared with other states, it has one of the lowest numbers of unsheltered homeless people among the states, with only 4.7% of its homeless population unsheltered.
Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts all have less than 5% of the homeless people in their states living in unsheltered conditions, the report says.
Deputy secretary resigns
The morning of the report’s release, HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude resigned, informing Carson that she would leave “in the new year,” according to a statement posted on her Twitter account. She said, “It has been an honor to serve President Trump and Secretary Carson,” and that she and her husband look forward to returning to “our home state of New Hampshire” in the statement.
Carson said he had accepted Patenaude’s resignation.
“On behalf of a grateful agency, and the families and communities we serve, I want to thank her for her tremendous contributions to advancing HUD’s mission,” Carson said in a statement. “She is a true public servant, and I wish her well as she returns to private life in New Hampshire.”
Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Brian Montgomery is expected to serve as acting deputy secretary, according to a department spokesperson.