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As temperatures start to drop, a new report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development serves as a reminder that a growing number of District residents are in need of more permanent lodgings.
Based on a “point-in-time” count conducted in January that offers a snapshot of homelessness in D.C. and other jurisdictions, HUD’s annual “homeless assessment report” to Congress finds that the number of homeless people in the District rose 14.4 percent between 2015 and 2016—one of the highest increases in the country. At 8,350 people, this also represents a 27.7 jump since 2010. Here’s the District’s profile:
Although 8,350 people were recorded as homeless during the one-night count on Jan. 28, more than 8,000—or 96 percent—were located in either emergency shelters or transitional housing. The number of families experiencing homelessness ballooned 34 percent year over year, to more than 4,650. But that seemingly shocking increase likely reflects D.C.’s decision in 2015 to provide year-round shelter access to families under Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s administration, advocates say. More than 450 families entered shelters between April and October of last year.
In absolute terms, according to HUD, the District’s increase of 1,052 homeless people from 2015 to 2016 ranked third, behind California and Washington state, which saw increases of 2,404 and 1,408 people, respectively, and ahead of Colorado (597) and Oklahoma (330). D.C. and Idaho saw the largest percentage growth (14 percent)—followed by Delaware (12 percent), Oklahoma (9 percent), and Wyoming (7 percent).
Still, as HUD Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Jane C.W. Vincent points out in a statement, “While overall homelessness increased in the District, veteran and chronic homelessness are declining,” by 14.2 and 10.7 percent, respectively. (“Chronic homelessness” refers to any person with a disability who has remained homeless for a year or more, or who has gone through four or more episodes of homelessness in the last three years totaling at least a year of being homeless.) There were 350 homeless veterans and 1,501 chronically homeless people this year. HUD notes that there “appeared” to be an increase of unaccompanied homeless youth, to 211, but such youth are more difficult to track than other homeless populations.
Between 2007 and this year, D.C. saw an increase of over 3,000 homeless individuals, or a 57 percent jump. New York and Massachusetts experienced the biggest increases over that period, of almost 23,800 and 4,500 homeless people, respectively. The report comes as the District prepares to build family homeless shelters across the city to replace the deteriorating D.C. General shelter, which is anticipated to close as late as 2020.
You can read the full report here. Additional highlights follow below.