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November 23, 2013

Government reports decline in number of homeless people

CUMBERLAND — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released its latest national estimate of homelessness, noting reductions in every major category or subpopulation since 2010, the year the federal government established a strategic plan to end homelessness.

HUD’s 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress finds significant and measureable progress to reduce the scale of long-term or chronic homelessness as well as homelessness experienced by veterans and families.

Meanwhile, local homeless housing and service providers in Maryland reported that the number of sheltered and unsheltered people decreased by 2,640 since 2010.

The report shows homelessness in Maryland in 2013 totaled 8,205 people, compared to 10,845 in 2010.

“We’re making real and significant progress to reduce homelessness in this country and now is not the time to retreat from doing what we know works,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “If we’re going to end homelessness as we know it, we need a continued bipartisan commitment from Congress to break the cycle trapping our most vulnerable citizens between living in a shelter or a life on the streets. I understand these are tough budget times but these are proven strategies that are making a real difference. We simply can’t balance our budget on the backs of those living on the margins.”

Jane C.W. Vincent, HUD’s Mid-Atlantic regional administrator, added, “Local housing and service providers are on the front lines of helping us battle homelessness and they need our help if we’re going to cross the finish line. Not only is there a moral imperative to tackle this problem head on, it makes fiscal sense to invest in solutions that work.”

Nearly 20 percent of homeless people were counted in either Los Angeles (53,798) or New York City (64,060). Los Angeles experienced the largest increase among major cities, reporting 27 percent more homeless people in 2013 compared to 2012. New York City reported a 13 percent increase.

HUD’s annual “point-in-time” estimates measure the scope of homelessness on a single night in January of each year. Based on data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties, this year’s estimate reveals an 8 percent drop among veterans and a 7 percent reduction among those experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness.

The decline in veteran homelessness across the country is largely attributed to the close collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Since 2008, a total of 58,250 rental vouchers have been awarded and 43,371 formerly homeless veterans are in homes of their own because of the program.

Chronic homelessness is declining and has done so quite substantially since 2007. This decline is partially attributable to a long-standing push to develop more permanent supportive housing opportunities for those struggling with long-term homelessness who otherwise continually cycle from shelters to the streets.

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