An ambitious plan to reduce homelessness by 25% seems to lack the “plan” part in the Biden administration’s new effort to house people, as homelessness has ticked up nationally by 3.4% this year.
San Francisco had the results of its biennial point-in-time homeless "census" back in May of this year, but the same count happens all over the nation. It obviously takes longer to aggregate all the national counts, but we do now have that bottom-line national number: there are more than 580,000 Americans experiencing homelessness, which is a 3.4% increase in homelessness since the last count was conducted in 2020.
But even 580,000 is likely an undercount. According to NPR, “Over the course of this year, more than a million individuals and families were without housing at some point, and they were disproportionately people of color.”
So that’s the impetus, as the Bay Area News Group reports, for a Biden administration plan to cut nationwide homelessness by 25% by 2025. That report picks up on a Monday morning announcement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development saying “The Biden-Harris Administration intends to not only stop but reverse the post-2016 trend of rising homelessness and reduce it 25% by 2025.”
“Compared with 2020, homelessness among people in shelters declined by 1.6%, while homelessness among people in unsheltered settings increased by 3.4%,” HUD says in their announcement. “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.”
Here in San Francisco, that homeless point-in-time count showed up 3.5% decrease in the homeless population (and certainly there are issues with the count’s methodology, but a decline is still encouraging). Yet we are an outlier. As noted previously, there was a 3.4% increase nationwide, and per the Bay Area News Group, “most of the core Bay Area counties” saw an increase in homelessness.
The Biden administration’s announced goal of a 25% reduction in homlessness is both welcome and ambitious, but also lacking in details. The News Group report that the announcement “lays out priorities including adding housing, moving people out of encampments and preventing more people from falling into homelessness,” but this will require more than laying out priorities.” The News Group also says that HUD will be “working with select cities to help them address homeless encampments,” but they haven’t announced which cities these are, or what these efforts would be. All we know right now is the Biden administration is promising $8.7 billion for housing and homelessness services, and we’ll hope to hear more about that as soon as possible.
Image: Joe Kukura, Fist