Every January, volunteers across the United States spend one night meeting with people that are homeless to administer the Point-In-Time Survey to unsheltered people. This information (combined with data from service providers on sheltered people) provides an insightful look at the region’s homeless population and helps local stakeholders better understand who is in need of housing. In May, the Homeless in Metropolitan Washington Report was released by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
This year, the report showed that homelessness in the DC Metro area rose 3.5%, meaning that 11,946 people were literally homeless on January 29, 2014. While many of the surrounding counties saw a decrease in homelessness, the District saw a 13% increase.
In DC, 7,748 people were counted in the 2014 Point-in-Time Count. In a city where the overall population is 646,449, this means that 12 out of every 1,000 people are homeless. Nearly half of the homeless people in DC are parents and children that make up 1,231 families. From 2013-2014, this marks a 20% increase in homeless families in the city. Unfortunately, this rise in family homelessness is just a continuation of a 50% increase since 2010. Parents that are homeless tend to be single mothers, with a median age of 28 years old.
Why is family homelessness increasing?
The Homeless in Metropolitan Washington Report speaks to a number of factors that contribute to this trend;
First, high rents that continue to climb make it very difficult for extremely low income households to find or maintain housing that they can afford, and wages have not increased to keep pace with the rising cost of housing. Second, the region’s declining supply of affordable housing continues to expand the gap between the options available for the lowest income households and the increasing need.
How does this new information impact the work that THC is doing?
THC is working diligently to support the over 500 families that we currently serve in Transitional, Permanent Supportive, Affordable and Rapid Rehousing. We are also actively seeking new relationships with landlords through the 500 Families. 100 Days. campaign. Since the April 1st kick off, this collaborative effort has identified over 400 potential homes, 190 of which were identified by families participating in rapid rehousing themselves!
To learn more about our ongoing efforts to end family homelessness in DC by 2020, sign up for a monthly newsletter!