Study Finds Continuing Decrease in Homeless Population

Study Finds Continuing Decrease in Homeless Population

But Survey Documents 128,000 Homeless Children

The U.S. homeless  population has decreased 11% since 2007 according to a new analysis and report on which University of Pennsylvania researcher and LDI Senior Fellow Dennis Culhane was co-investigator.

Carried out for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the 2015 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) also documents that homelessness among veterans declined 36% during the last five years.

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LDI Senior Fellow Dennis Culhane, PhD, is Director of the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans and co-investigator on the Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress.

The annual assessment study grew out of a 2001 Congressional directive to HUD that established a standardized Homeless Management Information data system in communities across the country. The goal was to count the homeless and study the assistance services they were or were not using.

Decade-long effort
Culhane, PhD, and others at the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans he directs have been pioneers of this decade-long effort to comprehensively quantify the national homeless population.

Culhane is also a Professor of Social Work at Penn's School of Policy & Practice; Psychology at the Perelman School of Medicine; and Policy Research and Evaluation at the Graduate School of Education.

Since 2005, a key element of the national homelessness data collection project has been an annual one-night "point-in-time" count of the homeless conducted late in January.

The latest single-night count estimated that 564,708 people were homeless, with 69% of them staying in some variety of shelter program and 31% of them living on the street. 

Children younger than 18
Nearly one-quarter of the total -- or 127,787 -- were children younger than 18. Some 4,667 of those children were unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.

This year was the first time the report included homelessness estimates for people younger than 25 who were not in the company of a parent or guardian.

In an interview with Penn News, Culhane said that overall, "the numbers are encouraging and reflect continuing progress" but that  progress on chronic homelessness has lagged. He suggested this slowdown may be related to funding cutbacks of the federal budget sequester.

He also noted that the dramatic drop in veteran-related homelessness was the result of increased resources targeted at this population.