The number of homeless in America continues to decline.

There were approximately 578,424 persons experiencing homelessness on a given night in January, an overall drop of 10 percent and a 25 percent drop in the unsheltered population since 2010, according to the latest estimates from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“As this year’s point-in-time count shows, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future,” said Julián Castro, HUD secretary, in a call with reporters. “Now, we’ve got to turn this optimism into real and lasting results in communities across the country.”

One of the most encouraging findings involves a steep decline in the number of homeless veterans. In January, there were about 50,000 vets on the streets or in shelters, a drop of about 33 percent, or 24,837 persons, since January 2010. Between 2013 and 2014, homelessness among veterans declined by 11 percent, or 5,846 individuals.

Other findings include:

  • Chronic homelessness among individuals declined by 21 percent (or 22,937 persons) since 2010, and 3 percent (2,164 persons) over the past year;
  • The number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined 15 percent (or 11,833 households) since 2010.  The number of unsheltered families fell 53 percent during that same time period; and
  • The number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children was relatively unchanged overall, at 45,205.  There was a 3 percent decrease in those who were unsheltered.

“Our progress demonstrates that homelessness is not an intractable problem,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “It’s a solvable problem, and one we’re making significant strides toward solving.”
The numbers show that the strategies being deployed to end homelessness are working, according to Zeilinger.

Officials said continued investments in permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing using a Housing First approach are critical.

They also attributed the decline in veteran homelessness to the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program. Since 2008, more than 59,000 rental vouchers have been awarded. and approximately 45,000 formerly homeless veterans have been housed under the program.

Connect with Donna Kimura, deputy editor of Affordable Housing Finance, on Twitter @DKimura_AHF.