Live in just about any metropolitan area — especially on the West Coast — and homelessness is a problem. Los Angeles — for example — has an estimated homeless population of 58,000. San Francisco, California, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington and a dozen other cities are experiencing — percentage wise — similar numbers.
The problem isn’t likely to go away anytime soon says the annual Department of Housing and Urban Development report to Congress. The 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report says homelessness jumped 1% between 2016 and the end of 2017. The good news is that the number of families with children who are homeless dropped 5% in the same time frame.
The HUD report found on any single night last year 553,000 people were homeless. That translates to 17 out of every 10,000 people not having a home or a place to stay.
Looking at the PIA Western Alliance states — and at the West Coast in particular where homelessness is heaviest — California has the biggest homeless problem. Looking at any night in January of 2017 in the Golden State and 25% of the 134,279 homeless were on the streets.
Here are the homeless numbers for the PIA Western Alliance states. The figure also shows the highest rates for unsheltered homeless people. California leads the nation in that figure with Nevada and Oregon close behind percentage-wise:
• Alaska -- 1,845
• Arizona -- 8,947
• California -- 134,278 -- 91,642 or 68.2% are unsheltered
• Montana -- 1,529
• Nevada -- 7,833 -- 4,578 or 58.4% are unsheltered
• New Mexico -- 2,482
• Oregon -- 13,953 -- 7,967 or 57.1% are unsheltered
• Washington -- 21,112
From 2016 to 2017 the largest percentage of change in homelessness:
• California -- grew 16,136 or 13.7%
• Oregon -- grew 715 or 5.4%
• Nevada -- grew 435 or 5.9%
When it comes to youth, a study by researchers at the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall that started in 2016 and ended just before the end of 2017 looked at 26,000 young people. It found more of them are crashing on couches of friends, acquaintances or family, sleeping in cars or actually ending up on the streets because of low wages, high rents and unstable families.
Looking at those age 18 to 25 and the study found one in 10 have been homeless at one time or another or are homeless still. For adolescents that figure is one in 30. Putting numbers to the issue:
• 3.5 million young people are in that quandary
• 660,000 adolescents have been homeless in the last year
Chapin Hall researcher Matthew Morton said one of the points of the study is to show that homelessness mostly affects older men. College students, some graduates and even employed young people struggle to find a permanent place to live. He also notes the problem is not just in urban areas. Young people in rural areas of the country struggle with the issue as well.
“Our findings probably challenge the images of homelessness. Homelessness is young. It’s more common than people expect and it’s largely hidden. Many young people are getting hammered in this economy . . . and far too many youth have experienced trauma and lack stable family situations. You have a major affordable housing crisis,” he said.
Source links: Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Washington Post