For the second straight year, the number of homeless
families in emergency shelters and transitional housing
programs rose while the number of sheltered homeless
individuals fell, according to the 2009 Annual Homeless
Assessment Report (AHAR).
When families are considered as households rather than
as separate individuals in a household, slightly more than
170,000 families were sheltered homeless last year, about a
30 percent jump since 2007.
On the positive side, the number of homeless individuals
fell 5 percent. The estimated number of chronic homeless
was down more than 10 percent.
“Despite the worst recession this country has
seen since the Depression, this report shows that,
nationally, we were able to avoid massive increases in
homelessness—at least through last fall.
There’s little question that the hard work of
communities implementing housing-based strategies played a
key role,” says Nan Roman, president of the
National Alliance to End Homelessness. “But the
rise in family shelter use is a clear indication that the
recession is having an effect on vulnerable households. We
are deeply concerned that it foreshadows increases in
homelessness in the future.”
For the first time, the number of beds in permanent
supportive housing surpassed the number of beds in
emergency shelter or transitional housing.
Permanent supportive housing increased by about 60,000
beds between 2006 and 2009. More than half the growth was
in the past year, from 196,000 beds in 2008 to more than
219,000 in 2009.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development report
finds that an estimated 643,067 people were homeless on a
given night in 2009. Roughly 1.56 million, or one in every
200 Americans, spent at least one night in a shelter during