Homelessness Decreased Prior to COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released its 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part 1 to Congress. The report found that 17,975 people experienced homelessness in Massachusetts on a single night in 2020, a decrease of 2.7 percent from 2019.

The 2020 MA PIT Count includes a number of key findings:

• Overall homelessness is down. There was a 2.7% (496 people) decrease in overall homelessness since 2019. The total number of people experiencing homelessness counted in the 2020 PIT: 17,975.

• Unsheltered homelessness is up. Unsheltered homelessness increased 56% (465 people) since 2019. The total number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness counted in the 2020 PIT: 1,294. 

• Family homelessness is down. Homelessness among families with children decreased, down 3.8% (470 families) since 2019. The total number of families experiencing homelessness counted in the 2020 PIT: 11,742. 

• Veteran homelessness is down. Veteran homelessness decreased, down 8.8% (81 veterans) since 2019. The total number of Veterans experiencing homelessness counted in 2020 PIT: 836. 

• Chronic homelessness is down. Chronic homelessness among individuals decreased 38.4% (911 individuals) since 2019. The total number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness counted in the 2020 PIT: 1,459.

• Youth homelessness is unchanged. The number of youth experiencing homelessness is relatively unchanged up .2 percent compared with 2019. The total number homeless youth counted in the 2020 PIT: 481.

The report found that between 2019 and 2020, homelessness increased nationally among unsheltered populations and people experiencing chronic homelessness. Veteran homelessness did not decrease compared with 2019, and homelessness among family households did not decrease for the first time since 2010. The report also found that people of color are significantly over-represented among people experiencing homelessness.

HUD releases the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) in two parts. Part 1 provides Point-in-Time (PIT) estimates, offering a snapshot of homelessness—both sheltered and unsheltered—on a single night. The one-night counts are conducted during the last 10 days of January each year. The PIT counts also provide an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness within particular homeless populations such as individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness and veterans experiencing homelessness. 

In 2020, the PIT estimates of people experiencing homelessness in sheltered and unsheltered locations, as well as the number of beds available to serve them, were reported by 396 Continuums of Care (CoC) nationwide. These 396 CoCs covered virtually the entire United States.

The Point-in-Time counts of homelessness and the housing inventory information are based on data from January 2020 and thus do not reflect the health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for levels of homelessness or characteristic of people experiencing homelessness.

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