Cities across US wrestle with growing crisis of homelessness
The administration of US President Joe Biden is launching a program to reduce homelessness as major cities across America struggle with a growing, stubborn homelessness crisis.
Federal data shows 582,462 people were experiencing homelessness in January 2022 – a number about the population of Milwaukee. The number includes people living in shelters and unsheltered people.
The U.S. saw a .3% increase in homelessness since 2020, not an overall spike, federal officials said.
Notably, veteran homelessness dropped more than 11% since 2020, and homelessness among families and unaccompanied children also decreased, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Although federal data doesn't show a rise in homelessness nationally, encampments in many U.S. cities became more visible during the pandemic, sparking debate and concern among the public and putting pressure on elected officials to address the growing problem.
Since 2020, the unsheltered homeless population, which includes encampments, increased by more than 3%. Chronic homelessness, which includes many people with disabilities, increased 15%.
Los Angeles and New York, the two most populous U.S. cities, have the largest homeless populations by far, according to estimates from HUD's 2021 homeless assessment report.
On her first day in office this month, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency over homelessness and has said she intends to place more than 17,000 people into housing in her first year.
New York has seen a spike with 65,633 living in shelters in October 2022, compared with 57,341 in October 2020, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. The Los Angeles region, which recently counted 69,144 people experiencing homelessness, saw a small increase since 2020 after a massive increase of 25% from 2018 to 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Portland has also seen an increase in people living on the streets since the pandemic hit, according to the Joint Office of Homeless Services.
Source: USA TODAY