More Families Without Homes Than Ever Before

June 15, 2011

Illinois’ foreclosure rate might be on the rise, but our rate of homelessness has posted a decline. Sort of.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report this week for Congress that measured homelessness from 2007 to 2010 throughout the country.

That report shows that the number of homeless people in Illinois has fallen about 7 percent since 2007.

homeless man in chicagoBut it hasn’t been a straight decline.

According to the report, Illinois had:

*15,487 homeless residents in 2007

*14,724 in 2008

*14,055 in 2009

*14,395 in 2010

When you combine the years, you get 1,092 less homeless people since 2007, or a drop of a little more than 7 percent, even though the numbers actually increased last year.

According to the report, about 0.1 percent of all Illinois residents are homeless. That seems low, but it still comes out to about one in every 1,000 residents.

Not so low. Especially when you take into account the number of families afflicted by homelessness.

Nationwide HUD stats:

*The number of homeless people in families increased by 20 percent from 2007 to 2010, and families currently represent a much larger share of the total sheltered population than ever before. The proportion of homeless people who used emergency shelter and transitional housing as part of a family increased from 30 percent to 35 percent. The increase in sheltered family homelessness is almost certainly a consequence of the economy.

*Since 2007, the number of people using homeless shelters in principal cities each year decreased 17 percent (from 1.2 million to 1.0 million), while the annual number of people using homeless shelters in suburban and rural areas increased 57 percent (from 367,000 to 576,000).

*Despite increases over the past year, there has been an overall 3.3 percent decline in the number of homeless people from 2007 to 2010: a 3.6 percent decline for individuals and a 2.8 percent decline for persons in families. The city of Los Angeles helped provide that decline after posting a huge drop in homelessness between 2007 and 2009.

And, what about the future? Does the report say we should expect the homeless population to grow in light of the tough economy?

“The long-term impacts of the recession are unclear. A recent study found a nearly five-fold increase in the rate of housing overcrowding, suggesting that many families are doubling up in response to the economic downturn. If some of these family support networks already are struggling to make ends meet, some of the doubled-up families may find their way into the homeless residential service system during 2010.”

Want to see the full report? Click here.

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