Number of Homeless Families Grows in San Diego and Nation

by on June 21, 2011 · 6 comments

in Civil Rights, San Diego

The Damm Family in Their Car, Los Angeles, CA, USA

SAN DIEGO — An annual report on homelessness from the Department of Housing and Urban Development shows the number of homeless people in families climbed 20 percent from 2007 to 2010, that was even as homelessness across the country declined by 3.3 percent over the same period.

A similar trend in San Diego County is taxing available resources, according to Peter Callstrom, executive director of San Diego’s Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

There are only so many beds that accommodate a family unit, so I know there’s waiting lists in order to accommodate the need,” he said. “But we don’t have it in every region of the county that has shelter beds specified for family units, so I know that they’re all tremendously challenged.

An annual survey done by the task force shows a 19 percent increase in the county’s homeless population since 2008. This year about 9,000 people were counted sleeping on the street or in the county’s temporary shelters during a single night in January.

Callstrom said the trend isn’t good, but without the three-year federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing program, it would likely be worse here.

“Over the course of just the first half of this project already over 3,000 families and individuals have been served through that new program,” he said. “So there could be as many as 3,000 additional individuals and families out on the street.”

The homelessness prevention program matches families and individuals at risk of becoming homeless with services before they are out on the street. Its funding was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Here is the full press release from HUD:


New data shows impact of Recovery Act on mitigating homelessness caused by recession

WASHINGTON – According to its latest national homeless assessment, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports the number of homeless persons in the U.S. held steady between 2009 and 2010, despite the economic downturn. For the first time, HUD’s annual report reveals how the Recovery Act’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) helped to mitigate homelessness in America, assisting nearly 700,000 persons in the first year of the program.

“It’s clear that had it not been for President Obama’s Recovery Act, many hundreds of thousands of persons may have fallen into homelessness or remained there ,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “During the height of our nation’s economic hardship, we’ve managed to stabilize and even prevent homelessness as we work to find permanent housing solutions for the most vulnerable among us.”

Based on data collected from thousands of local communities, HUD’s 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress finds a continued decline in the number of persons experiencing long-term homelessness due to the dramatic increase in the number of permanent supportive housing units. Those who were chronically homeless – persons with severe disabilities and long homeless histories – decreased one percent between 2009 and 2010, from 110,917 to 109,920. Since 2007, the number of people who are chronically homelessness has decreased by 11 percent, partially due to the number of 34 percent increase in permanent supportive housing beds during that same timeframe.

Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program– Approximately 690,000 people received assistance in the first year of the HPRP including 531,000 (77 percent) individuals who were prevented from becoming homelessness in the first place. The remaining 159,000 (23 percent) persons received ‘rapid re-housing’ assistance to move from the streets or shelters into permanent housing.

Most HPRP participants (59 percent) received assistance for two months or less. Participants receiving homelessness prevention assistance had slightly longer lengths of participation than persons receiving rapid re-housing assistance because prevention assistance was more likely to be provided on a recurring basis, while rapid re-housing was more likely to be one-time assistance – such as a security deposit.

HUD’s annual assessment is based on two measures of homelessness:

Point-In-Time ‘Snapshot’ Counts – these data account for sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night, usually at the end of January. The number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night increased by 1.1 percent over the last year: from 643,067 in January 2009 to 649,879 in January 2010. A total of 79,344 family households, and 241,621 persons in families, were homeless on the night of the 2010 PIT count. Since 2009, the number of homeless families increased 1.1 percent, and the number of homeless persons in families increased 1.5 percent

12-Month Counts –Using Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS),these dataprovide more detailed information on persons who access a shelter over the course of a full year. In 2010, 411 communities covering over 4,700 cities and counties submitted useable HMIS data resulting in a 23 percent increase from 2009. This increase results in more precise results as HMIS data collection and reporting capacities continue to improve. HUD estimates that 1.6 million persons experienced homelessness and found shelter between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010, a 2.2 percent increase from 2009. The characteristics of sheltered homeless individuals are very different from the characteristics of sheltered persons in families. Individuals are more likely to be white men, over 30 years old, and have a disabling condition, while adults in families are more likely to be younger African-American women without a reported disability. Of all those who sought emergency shelter or transitional housing during 2010, the following characteristics were observed:

  • 78 percent of all sheltered homeless persons are adults.
  • 62 percent are male.
  • 58 percent are members of a minority group.
  • 37 percent are 31-to-50 years old.
  • 63 percent are in one-person households.
  • 37 percent have a disability.

HUD’s report also reveals the following trends:

From 2007-2010:

  • Since 2007, the annual number of people using homeless shelters in principal cities has decreased 17 percent (from 1.2 million to 1.0 million), and the annual number of people using homeless shelters in suburban and rural areas has increased 57 percent (from 367,000 to 576,000).
  • The number of homeless persons in families has increased by 20 percent from 2007 to 2010, and families currently represent a much larger share of the total sheltered population than ever before. The proportion of homeless people who are using emergency shelter and transitional housing as part of a family has increased from 30 percent to 35 percent during this same period. The increase in sheltered family homelessness is almost certainly a consequence of the economy.
  • Despite increases over the past year, there has been overall a 3.3 percent decline in the number of homeless persons from 2007 to 2010: a 3.6 percent decline for individuals and a 2.8 percent decline for persons in families. The overall decline in homelessness during this period can be attributed to a steep drop in homelessness in Los Angeles between 2007 and 2009.
  • There were almost 94,000 more sheltered homeless persons in families in 2010 as there were in 2007, and almost 72,000 fewer sheltered homeless individuals. The number of sheltered homeless individuals has declined six percent since 2007, from 1.15 million to 1.04 million.

Looking Ahead

The long-term impacts of the recession are unclear. A recent study found a nearly five-fold increase in the rate of housing overcrowding, suggesting that many families are doubling up in response to the economic downturn. If some of these family support networks already are struggling to make ends meet, some of the doubled-up families may find their way into the homeless residential service system during 2010.

HUD will use the findings from the 2010 AHAR to continue to work to end all homelessness through the Obama Administration’s initiative, Opening Doors, an unprecedented federal strategy to end veteran and chronic homelessness by 2015, and to end homelessness among children, families, and youth by 2020.

Read HUD’s 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

tj June 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I don’t know that Mary Ellen Mark’s touching photo of the Damm family is such a good idea, if you knew the follow up to it … or, then again, maybe it is …

Regardless, I think we know your point – it’s genuinely too bad that Slick Willie Clinton & the Greed Pandering Republicans – helped the ultra-Greedy NY Banksters to run amock, again (Gramm/ Leach/ Bliley Act) & destroy our economy, again.

And allowing the Multi-national corporations to export Millions of USA Families Jobs to 3rd World Exploiters (NAFTA, PNTR, etc) = treasonus.

If you can’t raise the 3rd world up – join them, I guess …


Frank Gormlie June 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

Impressed by your knowledge of the origins of that circa 1987 photo.


Sunshine June 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm

good follow up on what the PITC stats revealed. there is no easy solution to the ongoing issue of ending homelessness, yet from this report it sounds like some progress has been made.


Ashley August 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

please help family with 4 children really need some help 619-964-0296


tiffany October 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

How can I help those chidren? What do they need were do they live let me know so i can help them all.


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