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The government reveals that homelessness reached the highest level in the last 16 years

The main reason for the increase was people who "became homeless for the first time," according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Imagen de archivo de un campamento de personas sin hogar en San Francisco.

(Cordon Press)

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653,100 people spent one night on the street or in a shelter in January 2023. It is the highest figure in the last 16 years since the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began conducting the survey that measures the number of homeless people on a single night in January (called the Point-In-Time (PIT) count).

The figure represents a 12% growth compared to the previous year making for 70,600 more people. As HUD reported on Friday, the increase was primarily due to a "sharp rise in the number of people who became homeless for the first time."

The HUD issued a statement saying, "This rise in first-time homelessness is likely attributable to a combination of factors, including but not limited to, the recent changes in the rental housing market and the winding down of pandemic protections and programs focused on preventing evictions and housing loss."

Four out of every ten homeless people were in "places not meant for human habitation" when the count was taken. The other six were housed in emergency shelters or transitional housing.

Between fiscal years 2021 and 2022, there were 25% more new homeless people. Only 8% did the opposite in the same period and managed to obtain permanent housing.

Homeless demographics

111,620 of the thousands of homeless people on that record night in January were under 18 years old. Seventeen percent of the total homeless were minors, although HUD recognizes that the real number may be higher. Of them, 10,548 slept on the streets and 101,072 stayed in shelters.

More than a quarter of homeless adults were over 54 years old. 20% were between 55 and 64 years old and 8% were over 64 years old. These groups are the ones that had to endure the nightfall the most without a shelter to welcome them: "The unprotected homeless people used to be older on average than the protected homeless people."

61% of homeless people belonged to the male gender, taking into account both men and children. 38% were women, and the rest, according to the study, identified themselves in another way.

Homeless families

The number of homeless people who were part of a family with children grew by 16% between 2022 and 2023. That is an increase of 25,000 people.

The increase was largely due to a 17% increase in families with children who moved to a shelter, making for a total of 24,966 more people. Another 48 ended up on the streets without shelter.

What's worse is that 22% of homeless people under 25 were minors without family.

States with the most growth

New York was the state where homelessness increased the most. Another 29,022 homeless people found themselves on the streets over the last year in the state. That's a 40% increase. California follows, with a total of 9,878 more people who found themselves homeless from one year to the next - although the percentage difference is considerably smaller at 5.8%. These two states are also the ones that have added the most homeless people since 2007: 42,413 in California and 40,599 in New York.

Considering the growth between 2022 and 2023, they are followed by Florida with 4,797 more homeless people, Colorado (4,042) and Massachusetts (3,634). Massachusetts is also among the states with the highest increase in the last decade and a half, with 4,014 people. Florida leads the opposite list, having reduced the number of homeless people by 17,313.

The states that decreased homelessness the most in the last year were Louisiana (with 4,204 fewer homeless), Tennessee (1,352), Delaware (1,124), Alabama (448) and Mississippi (214).

Access the full report

2023 AHAR: PIT Estimates of Homelessness in the US by Santiago Adolfo Ospital on Scribd