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Biden-Harris Admin Sets Ambitious Goals to Combat Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released its 2022 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) Part 1 to Congress. The report found 582,462 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2022. COVID-19 and its economic impacts could have led to significant increases in homelessness, however investments, partnerships and government agency outreach resulted in only a .3% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness from 2020 to 2022.

The Biden-Harris Administration intends to not only stop but reverse the post-2016 trend of rising homelessness and reduce it 25% by 2025, as stated in All In, The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, which was released today by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Compared with 2020, homelessness among people in shelters declined by 1.6%, while homelessness among people in unsheltered settings increased by 3.4%.

All In was built from the ground up and shaped by public input from more than 500 people who have experienced homelessness as well as leaders, providers, advocates, developers, and other partners from more than 600 communities, tribes, and territories. The plan is based on more than 1,500 online comments and more than 80 listening sessions that told USICH the federal government needs to:

  • Urgently address the basic needs of people in crisis;
  • Expand the supply of and access to affordable housing and high-quality support;
  • Build better systems to prevent people from losing their home in the first place;
  • Collaborate across sectors, systems, and jurisdictions;
  • Rely on data and evidence that show what works; and
  • Include people who have experienced homelessness in the policymaking process to dismantle systems that create disparities.

President Biden encourages state and local governments to use All In, which was developed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), as a blueprint for creating their own plans to prevent and end homelessness and setting their own ambitious goals for 2025.

“My plan offers a roadmap for not only getting people into housing but also ensuring that they have access to the support, services, and income that allow them to thrive,” said President Biden. “It is a plan that is grounded in the best evidence and aims to improve equity and strengthen collaboration at all levels.”

The rate of overall homelessness due in large part to a robust federal response that prevented evictions through Emergency Rental Assistance distributed to more than three million households, expanded resources for vulnerable families through the Child Tax Credit and provided other financial transfers through stimulus.

Homelessness among certain sub-populations decreased. The number of veterans experiencing homelessness decreased by 11%, contributing to a 55% decrease since 2010. Between 2020 and 2022, the number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined by 6% between 2020 and 2022, marking a total decline of 36% since 2010. The number of people under the age of 25 who experienced homelessness on their own as “unaccompanied youth” also declined by 12%.

“HUD and everyone in the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring every person has a safe, stable place to call home. Data shows that homelessness remains a national crisis, but it also shows that the historic investments this Administration has made to address this issue, can work,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “The Biden-Harris Administration is working to significantly reduce homelessness across the country and combat the racial and ethnic disparities resulting from systemic racism.”

While the overall number of people experiencing homelessness in 2022 increased slightly compared with 2020, it rose significantly for individuals, people with disabilities who experience long-term homelessness, and people in unsheltered settings. Single individuals not part of family households continue to represent the largest group of people experiencing homelessness. Homelessness among single individuals increased by 3.1%. The number of chronically homeless individuals (individuals with disabilities experiencing homelessness for long periods of time) increased by 16% between 2020 and 2022.

People who identify as Black, African American, or African, as well as indigenous people (including Native Americans and Pacific Islanders) continue to be overrepresented among those experiencing homelessness.

The AHAR data reflects a single-night snapshot of homelessness in America in early 2022 and the first complete single-night count of people experiencing homelessness since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows that overall homelessness remained relatively unchanged despite the economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These results, however, do not reflect the full impact of the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan and HUD’s House America initiative, which largely took place during calendar year 2022. For instance, the majority of HUD’s Emergency Housing Voucher program lease-ups took place during 2022. Also, during 2022, HUD released a first-of-its-kind Initiative to Address Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness, which HUD plans to award in early 2023.

The release of the plan coincides with the week of Homeless Person’s Memorial Day, which commemorates the people who have lost their life while living without a home. People who experience homelessness die nearly 30 years earlier than the average American and at the average age that Americans died in 1900. All In responds to homelessness like a life-and-death crisis rooted in housing and health problems—not a crime for the justice system to solve.

While homelessness is deadly, it is also preventable. The pandemic proved the power of prevention: The Biden-Harris administration’s response to COVID — including emergency rental assistance for people at risk of eviction and direct cash assistance for most Americans—prevented millions from losing their homes and kept evictions at pre-pandemic levels. All In aims to further fix systems and failed policies in order to prevent homelessness, or the risk of it, long before it happens.

HUD releases the AHAR to Congress in two parts. Part 1 provides Point-in-Time (PIT) estimates, offering a snapshot of homelessness on a single night. The one-night counts are conducted during the last 10 days of January each year, with extensions approved on a case-by-case basis. The PIT counts also provide an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness within particular homeless populations such as individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness and veterans experiencing homelessness.

To read the full release, including more information and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].
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