The nation is continuing to see a decline in homelessness, especially among families with children and veterans, according to the latest national estimate by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
On a single night in January 2016, 549, 928 people were homeless. The majority of people, 68%, had been staying in shelters, transitional housing, or other safe havens, while 32% were unsheltered.
HUD’s 2016 annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found that the number of people experiencing homelessness declined by 3% between 2015 and 2016. However, the declines were composed entirely of the people staying in sheltered locations—5%—while the homeless numbers increased for those unsheltered—2%.
Overall, the nation has seen a 14% decline in homelessness since 2010, when the Obama administration launched Opening Doors, the nation’s first strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.
HUD’s national estimate is based on the Point in Time counts on a single night in January 2016 from 3,000 cities and counties.
HUD and Veterans Affairs efforts have contributed to seeing an almost 50% decrease in homelessness among veterans since 2010. On a single night in January 2016, 39,471 veterans were experiencing homelessness, 17% less than the prior year.
The number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined 23% since 2010. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of homeless family households dropped by 5%.
The number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children also appeared to decline in 2016, although HUD will work to do a more accurate count of this population in the coming year.
While most of the homeless numbers were trending downward, homelessness among individuals remained flat year over year, with a drop of less than 1%. Sheltered individuals saw a decline of 4%, while unsheltered individuals increased by 3%.
“While our continued progress reinforces that we are on the right path, the data also makes clear that we must increase the pace of that progress,” said Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, in a statement. “To do so, we must be unwavering in our commitment to strategies and investments that are working. Our communities and our citizens deserve nothing less.”