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HUD Annual Report: Decrease in Homeless Families and Veterans Can't Halt Increase in Total Year-Over-Year Homelessness

Rockville, Md.  –  Part 1 of the 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress was released today. Each year, Abt Associates produces AHAR for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The report is comprised of two volumes; part 1 captures the point-in time (PIT) estimates of homelessness. PIT estimates offer a snapshot of homelessness—both sheltered and unsheltered—on a single night.  A second volume of the 2019 report will describe people who used shelters at some time over the course of the entire year.


  • The number of veterans experiencing homelessness declined by 2 percent between 2018 and 2019. The number of veterans experiencing homelessness has been cut in half since 2009.
  • The number of people experiencing homelessness in families with children declined by 5 percent between 2018 and 2019.


  • Homelessness increased for the third consecutive year, following six straight years of declines. The number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night increased by nearly 3 percent between 2018 and 2019. This change was largely driven by a 9-percent increase in the number of individuals (that is, people not in families) staying in unsheltered locations.
  • The number of individuals experiencing homelessness grew. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of unsheltered individuals increased by 10 percent and the number of sheltered individuals increased by 3 percent.
  • The number of individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness increased by 9 percent between 2018 and 2019. These are people who have been homeless for a year or more, either continuously or in an accumulation of episodes of homelessness over three years. While increases were observed for people staying in both sheltered and unsheltered situations, this recent increase reflects a 15 percent increase in the number of chronically homeless people in shelters. While more modest, the growth in unsheltered homelessness seems to reflect new people staying on the street or in other places not meant for habitation.
  • Over-representation of people of color—African Americans in particular—among those experiencing homelessness is getting worse. For example, much of the decline in veteran homelessness is among men identifying as white and not Hispanic, while the numbers of women veterans and veterans of color have increased. This pattern is seen across other populations as well.

“Reducing homelessness among veterans through the provision of permanent housing has been a priority, and the latest AHAR report shows that concentrating our efforts can make a difference,” said Abt’s project director, Meghan Henry. “The overall increase in homelessness—driven by people who are unsheltered—underscores the need for local, state, and federal partners to extend that same focus to addressing unsheltered homelessness and housing affordability among families and individuals.”

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Abt Associates uses data and bold thinking to improve the quality of people’s lives worldwide. From increasing crop yields and combatting infectious disease, to ensuring safe drinking water and promoting access to affordable housing—and more—we partner with clients and communities to tackle their most complex challenges.

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