Homelessness in US surges to highest-recorded level

Homelessness in US surges to highest-recorded level

Homelessness in the United States is at an all-time high due to rising housing prices and a decline in assistance given during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Biden administration.

The report, released Friday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), showed the number of people experiencing homelessness has risen by 12 percent across the board since last year — or by more than 70,000 cases. The results of the head count, taken in January, mark the highest level of homelessness since the department began studying the subject in 2007.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said the results show an “urgent” need for solutions.

“Homelessness should not exist in the United States,” Fudge wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“The data released today underscores the urgent need for support for proven solutions and strategies that help people quickly exit homelessness and that prevent homelessness in the first place,” she added.

While the increase represents people across all demographics, families with children experienced an even higher increase of nearly 16 percent. The rise in individuals specifically was 11 percent, according to the report.

Broken down by race, Asian Americans faced the largest increase in homelessness — 40 percent. Black Americans made up roughly 37 percent of those experiencing homelessness, while those who identified as Hispanic or Latino made up 33 percent of the total.

More than a quarter of the homeless population is over the age of 54, HUD noted.

Jeff Olivet, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, said numerous factors were behind the problem.

“The most significant causes are the shortage of affordable homes and the high cost of housing that have left many Americans living paycheck to paycheck and one crisis away from homelessness,” Olivet said.

The largest populations of homeless people can be found in just four states: California, New York, Florida and Washington.

However, New Hampshire and New Mexico saw the largest increases in homelessness — with 52 percent and 50 percent respectively. The Empire State came third, going up by 39 percent.

The report also highlighted that the number of people experiencing homelessness dropped in 25 states and Washington, D.C.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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