How is the economy affecting the homeless?

Each week our staff members are asked by members of the community questions like, “Is the shelter staying full?” and “Are you seeing a lot of new faces?” Our community knows that times are tough for everyone, but those tough times are known to be hitting those already living on the edge especially hard. In essence, people are asking: “How is the recession affecting the homeless?” Providentially, the Homelessness Pulse project offers us a snapshot answer from across the nation.

Created to help the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) understand the impact of the current economic crisis on homelessness, the Homelessness Pulse Project gathers data from nine Continuums of Care (CoCs) and publishes reports four times each year. The reports include point-in-time counts of the sheltered homeless and cumulative counts of the newly homeless. (Please note that this report does not include numbers on the unsheltered homeless and that the selected CoCs are not meant to be a representative sample of all continuums nationwide.)

Below are some of the main findings from the Homelessness Pulse Project (seven CoCs participated in this report):

  • The number of newly homeless persons accessing services increased by 26 percent. In fact, all seven participating sites reported an increase in newly homeless persons. These are individuals and families who, before hard times hit, probably thought they would never have to ask a shelter for help.
  • The total count of newly sheltered homeless families increased by 38 percent during the quarter. When looking only from July to September 2009, this increase is staggering.
  • The total count of newly sheltered individuals increased by 12 percent during the same period.
  • Since June 2009, the seven CoCs reported an 8 percent increase in the number of sheltered homeless.
  • Unemployment rates and foreclosure activity increased in all of the sites in the 3rd quarter of 2009. The unemployment rate ranged from 7.5 percent to 12.5 percent and the percentage of properties that entered into foreclosure ranged from 0.17 to 2.34 percent. In the Florida CoC in particular, the unemployment rate increased by more than 2 percentage points over the first three quarters of 2009.

The Homelessness Pulse Project demonstrates that the needs of the homeless in our country are growing. The Coalition is working hard to meet the needs of the homeless in our community, and we’d love for your to join the fight to end homelessness in Central Florida!

To find out more, visit our website.