Homelessness rose this year to the highest level on record, the federal government reported Friday.
An annual count, conducted in January, found that the homeless population had increased by more than 70,000 people, or 12 percent. It's the 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.
According to 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 extraordinary measures the government had enacted during the pandemic, including financial aid and eviction bans.
“The biggest causes are the shortage of affordable housing and the high cost of housing,” said Jeff Olivet, director of the American Interagency Council on Homelessness.
But some researchers argued that much of the increase was due to the growing number of immigrants entering the United States, and they noted strong growth in homelessness in the hardest-hit cities, including New York, Denver and Chicago.
“To me, the story is the immigration crisis,” said Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor who has long been 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 increased among all groups tracked by the federal government. It increased among individuals and families with children. It arose among the young and the old. It increased among the chronically homeless and among those entering the system for the first time.
It also rose among veterans, the group that had seen the steepest declines in recent years, following a major expansion of federal aid.
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