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Homelessness in Florida Falls in 2018

December 17, 2018 - 3:00pm
Ben Carson
Ben Carson

Local communities throughout Florida report homelessness declined in 2018, according to the latest national estimate by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

HUD’s 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found that 31.030 Floridians experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018, a decrease of 3.6 percent since last year. Meanwhile, homelessness among veterans decreased 9.7 percent while during 2011-2018 it decreased 54.9 percent. Homelessness experienced by families with children decreased 3.1 percent statewide since 2017. 

As in previous years, there is significant local variation in the data reported from different parts of the country. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia reported decreases in homelessness between 2017 and 2018 while 19 states reported increases in the number of persons experiencing homelessness.

For example, the City and County of Los Angeles reported a 4.7 percent decrease in overall homelessness since 2017, primarily as a result of intensive street outreach and increased production of supportive housing. Meanwhile, New York City reported a 2.8 increase, principally among families in emergency shelters and transitional housing.

“Our state and local partners are increasingly focused on finding lasting solutions to homelessness even as they struggle against the headwinds of rising rents,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Much progress is being made and much work remains to be done, but I have great hope that communities all across our nation are intent on preventing and ending homelessness.”

“Communities across the country are getting better and better at making sure that people exit homelessness quickly through Housing First approaches,” said Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “We know, however, that a lack of housing that people can afford is the fundamental obstacle to making further progress in many communities.”

HUD’s national estimate is based on data reported by approximately 3,000 cities and counties across the nation. Every year on a single night in January, planning agencies called ‘Continuums of Care,’ along with tens of thousands of volunteers, seek to identify the number of individuals and families living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered settings. These one-night ‘snapshot’ counts, as well as full-year counts and data from other sources (U.S. Housing Survey, Department of Education), are crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress toward reducing it.

A key finding of the assessment report is, veteran homelessness in the U.S. is nearly half of what was reported in 2010, largely as the result of intense planning and targeted interventions, including the close collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Both agencies jointly administer the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines permanent HUD rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the VA. Last year alone, more than 4,000 veterans, many experiencing chronic forms of homelessness, found permanent housing and critically needed support services through the HUD-VASH program. An additional 50,000 veterans found permanent housing and supportive services through VA’s continuum of homeless programs.

Another key finding: Long-term or chronic homelessness among individuals with disabilities grew by 2.2 percent since 2017, though it's 16.4 percent below the levels reported in 2010. This longer trend is due in part to a concerted effort to make more permanent supportive housing opportunities more available for people with disabling health conditions who otherwise continually cycle through local shelters or the streets. Research demonstrates that for those experiencing chronic homelessness, providing permanent housing, coupled with appropriate low-barrier supportive services, is the most effective solution for ending homelessness. This ‘housing first’ approach also saves the taxpayer considerable money by interrupting a costly cycle of emergency room and hospital, detox, and even jail visits.

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