Homelessness in the nation could increase by 5 percent,
or 74,000 people, in the next three years without
additional intervention, estimates the Homelessness
Research Institute at the National Alliance to End
The figure is a conservative estimate and attributed to
the lingering bad economy, high unemployment, and links to
“deep poverty,” said NAEH President Nan
The projected increase would be a blow to recent efforts
to end homelessness. The homeless population was declining
prior to the recession. Even during the recent economic
downturn the number of homeless people increased only 2
percent from 2009 to 2010. This was largely due to the
Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program
(HPRP), which assisted 1 million at-risk and homeless
people with stimulus funds under the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act, according to Roman.
However, the challenge of preventing homelessness looks
to increase as this critical intervention goes away. With
the $1.5 billion provided to HPRP largely spent, NAEH is
calling for the continued investment in homeless programs
initiated by the program as well as resources to fully
implement the Homeless Emergency and Rapid Transition to
Housing Act that was signed in 2009.
The latest data reveals that about 1.6 million people
spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or
transitional housing program between Oct. 1, 2009, and
Sept. 30, 2010.
However, it looks like the worst is still yet to come as
more Americans struggle. The number of people in poverty
has increased to a record 46.2 million, and the poverty
rate of 15.1 percent is the highest on record since 1983.
Perhaps, the most troubling indicator is the rise in deep
poverty, which increased to a record 20.5 million people in
2010. A person or family experiences deep poverty if they
are making less than half of the poverty threshold.
“The budget can’t be balanced on the
backs of the most vulnerable people,” Roman said,
pointing out that if people don’t have stability
in housing, they often show up in even more expensive
systems like foster care, criminal justice, and emergency