HUD reports homeless families up…individuals down

On June 16, 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. One of the most interesting findings in this study was that, while there was a decrease in the number of homeless individuals, there was an increase in homeless families.

We scouted the report and HUD press release to learn more and found that in calendar 2008/2009:

  • The number of individuals seeking shelter or transitional housing decreased by 5%, or 58,000 people.
  • There was an increase of 3.6% in homeless families, which is about 19,000 people.

We also learned that HUD measures the scope of homelessness by using two counts:

  • Point-In-Time ‘Snapshot’ Counts – this data is collected by volunteers all over the United States who go out into their local communities to count and survey sheltered as well as unsheltered individuals. You can read the 2009 Point- in-Time Count for the Central Florida region here.
  • 12-Month Counts using Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) – HMIS is a software application that allows the compiling of more specific characteristics and needs of the homeless. HUD is able to use this application to determine the scope of homelessness over a period of time.

How do these national statistics translate to us locally?

You may be wondering how the HUD findings compare to those at Coalition for the Homeless. Though not exactly apples-to-apples, since we maintain statistics by fiscal year (July 1 to June 30), our numbers give a very good sense of comparison.  For example, in FY 2008/2009 as compared to FY 2007/2008:

  • We saw fewer families, but they stayed about 30% longer.
  • We served fewer individuals (not part of a family).

As we’re gathering our FY 2009/2010 yearly statistics, we’re finding that our trend is holding.  So far this fiscal year:

  • There has been a 19% decrease in the number of parents and children staying at the Coalition’s two campuses.
  • However, there has been a corresponding 45% increase in average length of stay of parents and children at these two shelters.
  • There has been a 20% decrease in the number of homeless individuals (not part of a family) staying with us.
  • But the average number of days that individuals stayed with us has increased by 31%.

As you can see, our data is consistent with the overall decrease in homeless individuals, although there has been an increase in the number of days they are staying. While we have not seen a rise in the number of parents and children, families are staying longer.

A lengthier stay means that our facilities are at full capacity.

Stay tuned for more Coalition statistics as we compile our FY 2009/2010 numbers. For more information about the Coalition, we invite you to visit our website.