HUD Report: U.S. Homelessness Declines Overall; Problems in West - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

HUD Report: U.S. Homelessness Declines Overall; Problems in West

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Homelessness is declining overall in the U.S., according to new data from the federal government. But there are cities and states where homelessness is on the rise.
    
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday many cities in the West are struggling with homelessness. They say a lack of affordable housing and growing problems with opioid addiction are contributing to the problem.
    
Nationwide, veteran homelessness has decreased dramatically in the last several years. Officials credit a program initiated by President Barack Obama urging communities to have a plan in place to prevent and reduce homelessness. They hope communities apply what they've learned helping veterans to other groups with high rates of homelessness.

In making the announcement, HUD Secretary Julián Castro noted that though the nation is making significant progress in reducing homelessness, the number of ‘doubled up’ or rent-burdened families remains a vexing problem.
 
“Every person deserves a safe, stable place to call home,” said Secretary Castro. “The Obama Administration has made unprecedented progress toward ending homelessness and today marks the seventh straight year of measureable progress.  While we know that our work is far from finished, it’s clear we’re on the right track to prevent and end homelessness for good.” 
 
“While our continued progress reinforces that we are on the right path, the data also makes clear that we must increase the pace of that progress,” said Matthew Doherty, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “To do so, we must be unwavering in our commitment to strategies and investments that are working. Our communities and our citizens deserve nothing less.”

Family Homelessness
 
There were 61,265 family households experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2016, a nearly 23% decline since 2010. Meanwhile, the number of persons in families declined by nearly 20% during that time, due in large measure to the expansion of Rapid Rehousing Programs across the country and a concerted effort by local planners to reallocate scarce resources in a more strategic way.   
 
Veteran Homelessness
 
Since the launch of Opening Doors, several states and local communities have declared an effective end to Veteran homelessness (read more).  As a consequence of intense planning and targeted intervention, homelessness among veterans fell by nearly 50% since 2010. This decline is largely attributed to the close collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on a joint program called HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). Since 2008, more than 79,000 rental vouchers have been awarded and approximately 111,000 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes of their own because of HUD-VASH.
 
Chronic Homelessness
 
Long-term or chronic homelessness among individuals declined 27% since 2010. This reduction is due in part to a concerted effort to make available more permanent supportive housing opportunities for people with disabling health conditions who otherwise continually cycle through local shelters or the streets. Research demonstrates that for those experiencing chronic homelessness, providing permanent housing, coupled with appropriate low-barrier supportive services, is the most effective solution for ending homelessness. This ‘housing first’ approach also saves the taxpayer considerable money by interrupting a costly cycle of emergency room and hospital, detox, and even jail visits.
    
The federal government releases the numbers after volunteers across the country count the homeless people in their local areas. The volunteers count people they find living outside, on the street or in shelters.

(The Associated Press, Dept of Housing and Urban Development contributed to this report.)

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