“The number of homeless people in the U.S. has increased in the past year — the first upward trend in the population since 2010 — which is blamed largely on rising rents and lack of affordable housing especially on the West Coast.
Seven years ago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development count identified 637,077 homeless persons in the nation. Each subsequent year, the federal homeless count declined, reaching 549,928 in 2016.
But in the past year, the homeless population has increased by 0.7 percent, for a total of 553,742, according to HUD’s 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress that was released Wednesday.
The agency said the increase was “largely attributed to the jump in unsheltered homelessness in larger cities in the West Coast.” No other state had a higher increase in homeless persons than California, which experienced a 14 percent increase, or 16,136 more homeless persons, for a total of 134,278.
“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,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. He said there was a need to “produce more affordable housing and ease the pressure that is forcing too many of our neighbors into our shelters and onto our streets.”
While families with children who are homeless declined 5.4 percent nationwide since 2016, the number of chronically homeless persons has increased along with the number of veterans who are homeless.
HUD’s report uses tallies from cities and counties reported to the agency from counts conducted on a single night in January. San Francisco’s own homeless count released earlier this year actually identifies more homeless persons than it reports to HUD because HUD’s definition is narrower.”
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