America's homeless population rises for first time in years

The Housing for Health program launched in 2012 and provides housing to some of LA’s many unsheltered residents.    
   Andrew V Marcus | Shutterstock

The Housing for Health program launched in 2012 and provides housing to some of LA’s many unsheltered residents. Andrew V Marcus | Shutterstock

Excluding the Los Angeles region, total homelessness nationwide would have been down by about 1.5 percent compared with 2016. Our count was conducted differently this year: the county brought in a research firm and volunteers were paired with formerly-homeless people to help with the count, so the new numbers aren't directly comparable to past counts.

"There are days when I don't want to wake up", said 30-year-old Ashley, who found herself homeless in July after being evicted and losing her job. Communities use the report while deciding how to allocate money and resources to combat homelessness. Numerous surveys of homeless service providers found that significant cutbacks in staff forced agencies to reduce services and reduce how many people they could serve.

With only $2 in her pocket, Ashley now uses a free program offered through the Durham Memorial A.M.E Zion Church in Buffalo to get get food and a shower on weekdays.

A new report from a federal housing agency singled out New Hampshire as one of the states that saw the largest increase in homelessness among families with children.

3,305 people were homeless representing an overall 17.3 percent decrease from 2016 and a 73.5 percent decrease since 2010. While overall homelessness increased by 0.7% nationally since 2016, since 2010 there was a decline of 13.1%. Four out of every five homeless individuals there are considered unsheltered, leaving tens of thousands of people with no place to sleep other than the streets or parks.

"In many high-cost areas of our country, especially along the West Coast, the severe shortage of affordable housing is manifesting itself on our streets", said HUD Secretary Ben Carson.


Butler said he was in transitional housing - a type of program that prepares people for permanent homes - for a while but mostly has lived on the streets for the past couple of years.

City officials, homeless advocates and those living on the streets point to a main culprit: the region's booming economy.

In the West Coast states, the surge in homelessness has become part of the fabric of daily life. That number has increased each year since 2014. In San Diego, it's 61.6 percent. New York, by contrast, has nearly 95 percent of its homeless living in shelters. That's a 6.2 percent drop since a year ago and a 15.7 percent decline since 2010.

The California counties of Sacramento, which includes the state capital, and Alameda, which is home to Oakland, also had one-year increases of more than 1,000 homeless people.

The veterans' numbers for California: Up 19.4 percent, to 8.5 percent of the total homeless population, with 66.7 percent unsheltered.

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