These statistics represent some of the highlights from The State of Homelessness in America 2015 released yesterday by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
While on the surface these numbers sound encouraging, they do not reflect the millions of Americans who have not benefited much from the economic recovery. They remain at risk of falling into homelessness in the future because of insufficient affordable housing and wages.
These impacts are not anecdotal. Here are some measurable symptoms that portend a future crisis:
- Almost 7.7 million people were living doubled up with friends and family in 2013, which is an increase of 67 percent since 2007. The majority of people who go into shelter report that they have come directly from a doubled up living situation, which means this group of people is the most at risk of future homelessness;
- Over 6.4 million poor households were burdened with severe housing cost—paying over half of their income in rent each month—in 2013, representing an increase of 25 percent since 2007; and
- On any given night, there are approximately 154,000 more people experiencing homelessness than there are beds available to assist them.
Looking at this data, it is clear that as a nation we must take more aggressive steps to prevent and end homelessness. The substantial decreases in veterans homelessness has shown us that targeted funding works and homelessness can be eradicated.
What can we do here in Pinellas County? In addition to housing every homeless veteran, we must prioritize the implementation of housing first, increase investment in affordable housing, and reduce economic inequality.