US homelessness hits record high amid cost of living crisis

US homelessness hits record high amid cost of living crisis

The number of homeless people in the US has soared to its highest level since 2007, as high costs of living push some of the most vulnerable Americans into shelters and the streets.

According to a head count conducted for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), homelessness shot up by more than 12% this year, reaching 653,104 people.

The numbers represent the sharpest increase and largest unhoused population since the federal government began tallying totals in 2007, it said.

Four out of 10 of homeless people are “in places not meant for human inhabitants,” where the population of unsheltered people is particularly at risk of violence and criminalization, the report said.

The states of California, New York, Florida, and Washington are facing the largest population of homeless people.

Unlike in years past, the spike in US homelessness was driven by increases among all populations and demographics, HUD said, including unhoused families with children and unhoused veterans.

The data comes months after the federal government found the US is facing growing rates of poverty and food insecurity.

In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available, more than 12% of the nation was living below the poverty line and nearly 13% said they didn’t have enough to eat, USA Today reported.

Ann Oliva, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homeless, said the US saw such a sharp increase this year because more people are becoming unhoused faster and more people are also becoming homeless for the first time.

“That move from a housed situation to an unhoused situation is happening more quickly, and it’s more direct,” Oliva said. “More folks are reporting, as they’re showing up in the homeless services system, that they’re coming directly from a lease.”

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Oliva said homeless services providers have been particularly strained in recent years because more people need help, and at the same time it has been harder to get people housed because housing costs have increased.

African Americans account for 37 percent of all people suffering from homelessness in the United States.

Evictions nationwide have been steadily increasing since fall 2021 when the national eviction moratorium ended. In late 2022, emergency rental assistance from the federal government also stopped.

From 2020 to 2022, the number of people who became homeless for the first time increased by 30%, according to HUD data.

Experts say poverty, mental health, and housing crisis have flamed the fire of homelessness in the US.

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the US National Low Income Housing Coalition, said those renters who once had been “stably housed “have been forced to re-enter “a brutal housing market, with skyrocketing rents and high inflation.


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