Homelessness in America

Dennis Norman St Louis

Dennis Norman

While many us have been worrying about what is happening to the value of our homes, how to deal with being underwater on a mortgage or even facing the loss of a home, there are many people, families included, in the U.S. whose worry is much more basic….where to find safe shelter for the night.

According to the recently released U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) on a single night in January 2009 there were an estimated 643,067 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people nationwide. Of these, more than 6 in 10 people were in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while 37 percent were unsheltered, “on the street”, or in other place not meant for human habitation.

Nearly two thirds of the people homeless on a single night were individuals (63 percent) and the remaining 37 percent were homeless as part of a family. On a positive note, the majority of the homeless families are “sheltered” and only 21 percent of homeless families were unsheltered.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Homelessness is heavily concentrated in large coastal states with California, New York and Florida accounting for 39 percent of the homeless count in 2009.
  • Kansas, South Dakota and West Virginia had the nation’s lowest concentrations of homeless persons.
  • Nearly 1.56 million people used an emergency shelter or transitional housing program during the 12-month period (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009). Two thirds were homeless as individuals, and one-third were homeless as members of families.
  • For the second straight year the number of sheltered homeless families increased, while the number of sheltered homeless individuals dropped.
  • A typical sheltered homeless person in 2009 was an adult male, a member of a minority group, middle-aged and alone.
  • Homeless people have higher rates of disability than either the poverty population or the total U.S. population; slightly over two-thirds of sheltered homeless adults have a disability.
  • Adults in sheltered homeless families are overwhelmingly female, most are under age 31. Three-fifths of the people in homeless families are children and more than half of them are under age 6.

Hmm….sort of puts things in perspective…..makes me feel very blessed to have a house to worry about the value of.

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