WASHINGTON (AP) — Homelessness in America was on the rise even before the coronavirus pandemic dramatically dragged down the economy, according to a government report.
The Housing and Urban Development Department’s annual report on homelessness provides a snapshot of the number of homeless people, both sheltered and unsheltered, in America on a single night. The one-night counts are conducted during the last 10 days of January each year, and the new report shows that 580,466 people experienced homelessness in the United States on a single night in January 2020 — an increase of 12,751 people, or 2.2 percent, from 2019.
Newly confirmed HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a statement Thursday the results were “very troubling.” She added: “What makes these findings even more devastating is that they are based on data from before COVID-19, and we know the pandemic has only made the homelessness crisis worse.”
The report found that homelessness has increased in America for the past four years after what it called “steady reductions” from 2010 to 2016.
“Housing should be a right, not a privilege, and ensuring that every American has a safe, stable home is a national imperative,” Fudge said. “As a nation, we have a moral responsibility to end homelessness, and we know how to do it.”
Fudge said President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan, which includes $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers, has equipped her department with tools to help get individuals and families off the streets. A long-serving Ohio congresswoman, Fudge said her final act as a House member was voting to approve the aid bill.