A head count for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) indicates that 653,104 persons were homeless this year, a more than 12% increase from last year.
Since the federal government started calculating totals in 2007, the figures show the biggest increase in the number of homeless people and the sharpest increase overall.
According to the survey, four out of ten homeless individuals live “in places not meant for human inhabitants,” where they are more vulnerable to assault and criminalization.
The states with the highest rates of homelessness are California, New York, Florida, and Washington.
According to HUD, the surge in homelessness in the US was caused by rises across all populations and demographics, including homeless veterans and families with children, unlike in previous years.
The data was released several months after the US government discovered that the country’s rates of food insecurity and poverty are rising. According to USA Today, in 2022—the most recent year for which statistics is available—nearly 13% of Americans stated they didn’t have enough to eat, and over 12% of the country lived below the poverty line.
The US had such a high increase this year, according to Ann Oliva, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, because more people are becoming homeless for the first time and becoming unhoused more quickly.
“That move from a housed situation to an unhoused situation is happening more quickly, and it’s more direct,” Oliva said. “More folks are reporting, as they’re showing up in the homeless services system, that they’re coming directly from a lease.”
Thirteen percent of the homeless population in the United States is African American.
Since the national eviction moratorium ended in the fall of 2021, the number of evictions has been gradually rising nationwide. The federal government’s emergency rental aid ended in late 2022 as well.
HUD data shows that there was a 30% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time between 2020 and 2022.
According to experts, the US homelessness situation has been exacerbated by poverty, mental illness, and the housing crisis.
Those who had previously been “stably housed,” according to Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the US National Low Income Housing Coalition, “have been forced to re-enter a brutal housing market, with skyrocketing rents and high inflation.”