According to a recent report issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), over half a million people live on the streets in the U.S. Although the number may seem large, authorities said that the situation has improved by 2 percent from last year.
The report, which was released Thursday, shows that close to 565,000 people do not have a place to call home. The count was done in late January. In 2014, there were 578,000 homeless people in the U.S., HUD investigators said.
Of those people, 47,000 are veterans, which is a slight decrease of 4 percent from 2014. Federal authorities explained that the number of vets without a home decreased due to the funds unlocked by Congress and a partnership between HUD and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The two agencies joined forces to offer veterans subsidies for rents and other services. Last week, the partnership was expanded and awarded an extra $12 million.
Recently, HUD Secretary Julian Castro said that several U.S. cities including Houston, Las Vegas, and New Orleans pledged to help homeless veterans who live on their streets.
Still, the report shows that there was little progress done to help people that live permanently on the street. About 83,000 people in the U.S. are now chronically homeless. HUD said that the situation is due to a shortage of affordable housing and shrinking federal funds.
Plus, the government is currently focused on the nation’s youth that lack a home. According to the HUD report, about 128,000 homeless people are children or adolescents. But data from the Education Department depicts an even grimmer situation. The agency found that there are 1.36 million homeless kids in the U.S.’ K-12 public schools. This number is 70 percent higher than seven years ago and double the number nine years ago.
The differences are caused by different meanings granted to the term ‘homeless’ by the two federal agencies. While HUD only takes into consideration people living on the street or in shelters, the Department of Education counts also cases that are less obvious such as kids in families that rent hotel rooms or live with other families.
Some experts argue that Education’s numbers are more exact because homelessness implies living in an unsafe and unstable place. Yet, people living in these extreme housing situations cannot ask for help because they do not qualify as homeless under federal standards.
Nevertheless, HUD’s chief is now determined to make sure that “every man, woman and child enjoys a safe and stable place to call home.”
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