Homelessness Rose to Record Level This Year, Government Says

Homelessness surged this year to the highest level on record, the federal government reported on Friday.

An annual head count, conducted in January, found the homeless population had increased by more than 70,000 people, or 12 percent. That is the single largest one-year jump since the Department of Housing and Urban Development began collecting data in 2007, and the increase affected many different segments of the population.

By the government’s count, 653,104 people in the United States were homeless in January.

Researchers and Biden administration officials said the increase reflected a sharp rise in rents and the end of the extraordinary measures the government had enacted during the pandemic, including financial aid and bans on eviction.

“The most significant causes are the shortage of affordable homes and the high cost of housing,” said Jeff Olivet, head of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

But some researchers argued that much of the rise stemmed from the surging numbers of migrants entering the United States, noting a sharp growth in homelessness in the most affected cities, including New York, Denver, and Chicago.

“To me, the story is the migrant crisis,” said Dennis Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has long served as an adviser to the federal government’s annual count. “Even without the migrant crisis we would have seen some increase, but certainly not to this extent.”

Homelessness grew among every group the federal government tracks. It rose among individuals and families with children. It rose among the young and the old. It rose among the chronically homeless and those entering the system for the first time.

It also rose among veterans, the group that in recent years had experienced the sharpest declines, after a significant expansion of federal aid.

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