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Old 28 August 2013, 01:53 AM
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Default The Astonishing Decline of Homelessness in America

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/pol...-america/6674/

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Despite a housing crisis, a great recession, rising income inequality, and elevated poverty, there is some good news among the most vulnerable segment of American society. America’s homeless population – an estimated 633,000 people – has declined in the last decade.

This seems incredible – perhaps literally, so. The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a leader in homelessness service and research, estimates a 17 percent decrease in total homelessness from 2005 to 2012. As a refresher: this covers a period when unemployment doubled (2007-2010) and foreclosure proceedings quadrupled (2005-2009).

It’s equally shocking that politicians haven’t trumpeted this achievement. Nor have many journalists. Yes, there’s a veritable media carnival attending every Bureau of Labor Statistics "Jobs Report" on the first Friday of the month. We track the unemployment rate obsessively. But the decline in homelessness hasn’t attracted much cheerleading.
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Old 28 August 2013, 05:12 AM
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Wow all I've been hearing is the exact opposite, either this article is wrong or the homeless advocates are playing fast and loose with their facts.
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Old 28 August 2013, 05:45 AM
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It's the sort of thing that makes you wonder if they changed the definition of "homeless" and suddenly made there be fewer "homeless people." Like if they started counting couch surfing, or living in your car as having a home.
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Old 28 August 2013, 06:04 AM
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My first thought was that budget cuts to public and private assistance meant a lot of homeless people were simply dying. I'd like to be sure that's not the case before I call the decline in the homeless population a victory.
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Old 28 August 2013, 06:56 AM
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Could some of the homeless be in prison?
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Old 28 August 2013, 02:03 PM
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Count me among the suspicious. Something has to be skewing those numbers somehow.
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  #7  
Old 28 August 2013, 02:05 PM
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Maybe they started making them into smartphones..
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Old 28 August 2013, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Homeless rate in Virginia drops by 16 percent

Virginia's overall homeless rate dropped 16 percent in the past three years, as have metrics for families and veterans without permanent residences, Gov. Bob McDonnell proclaimed Monday [June 24].
They're saying there's been a shift in strategy from temporary shelter to placing people in permanent housing. There was also some federal stimulus money involved to keep people in their homes.
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Old 28 August 2013, 03:00 PM
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I read about a similar trend, toward rapidly moving people into permanent housing, in our local Street Voices (newspaper sold by the homeless).
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Old 28 August 2013, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
It's the sort of thing that makes you wonder if they changed the definition of "homeless" and suddenly made there be fewer "homeless people." Like if they started counting couch surfing, or living in your car as having a home.
As far as I can tell, no, they didn't change the definition. The paper at the first link in the article says homelessness is defined as "For the purposes of this report, “homelessness” or “homeless” refers to the definition set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which considers an individual homeless if he or she lives in an emergency shelter, transitional housing program, safe haven, or a place not meant for human habitation, such as a car, abandoned buildings, or on the street." Not sure how couch surfing has been counted, though.
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Old 28 August 2013, 03:59 PM
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I suspect couch surfing is not included in the figure and never has been.
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Old 28 August 2013, 04:32 PM
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It depends on what agency's definition is being used. I went and read the HUD rule that this organization is referring to. It doesn't expressly cover couch surfing, but would include some couch surfers, depending on the specific situation.

The good news is that it looks like programs are actually working, and that this isn't a trick of statistics or the like.
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Old 28 August 2013, 04:46 PM
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Could this be because a lot of young adults have moved back in with their parents. I might be wrong, but I think over the past 5-6 years or so, people have gradually started accepting people living with their parents. Used to be that "a 30 year old who lives with his mom" was a common insult. I just don;t see people talking about that anymore. Probably because the economy has been down for so long, more people know people who have moved back with their parents, which removes the stigma
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Old 28 August 2013, 04:51 PM
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I doubt many young adults chose homelessness over the perceived stigma of moving in with their parents.
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Old 28 August 2013, 04:55 PM
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There's more stigma to being homeless than there is living with your parents.

The article (or one of them--I clicked on a couple) says a big difference was made by a program that prioritized getting people into permanent housing, even before dealing with their addiction or mental health issues on the theory that people are more likely to be able to deal with those problems when they have housing. And it gives them the incentive of wanting to keep the housing. I've seen some reports about these programs. Just didn't know they'd been so successful.
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Old 28 August 2013, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
There's more stigma to being homeless than there is living with your parents.
In addition to all the discomfort and outright danger.
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Old 28 August 2013, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
It's the sort of thing that makes you wonder if they changed the definition of "homeless" and suddenly made there be fewer "homeless people." Like if they started counting couch surfing, or living in your car as having a home.
Couch surfers wouldn't be counted unless we encountered them at a shelter at just the right time; even then, it'd be hard to qualify them as being chronically homeless (which is the number the article is referring to). Every year, we in the homeless service community do a Point-in-Time count of the homeless population (as best as we can). We go out to the camping sites, we go to the shelters (who all have automated databases, at least in my vicinity), and we patrol the streets where homeless are known to congregate (this includes locations where people sleep in their cars-- if you're sleeping in a car, it's not considered housing). We do a quick survey per-person, and use a set of criteria to determine if they're chronically homeless: have they been homeless a certain number of times over the past few years? Have they been homeless for more than 12 months? Do they have qualifying physical or mental disabilities?

Quote:
The program is thought to have aided 700,000 at-risk or homeless people in its first year alone, "preventing a significant increase in homelessness."
That's extremely important, as its a lot easier losing housing than getting it back. An ounce of prevention and all that. A lot of the focus of my place of work is services to our existing homeless clients, but we do a significant amount in preventative measures such as access to education, transportation, employment, etc., BEFORE people become homeless (my specific job is Education Advocacy for veterans).

Another big push that the article doesn't mention is that the Obama administration and the VA are actively looking to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015; since a disproportionate percentage of the homeless population (13%) are veterans, the efforts are going to have a larger impact on the population numbers as a whole.

The latest reports from NAEH say that 2013's numbers have slightly improved since 2012; the number of families are going up, but the individual and veteran numbers have dropped enough that it's close to a wash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey Blue View Post
Wow all I've been hearing is the exact opposite, either this article is wrong or the homeless advocates are playing fast and loose with their facts.
I'm not sure which homeless advocates you're listening to, but the article is derived from the publicly-available reports from NAEH, one of the biggest players in the industry. I have yet to hear anyone say anything that contradicts this reporting or the source material it was derived from.
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Old 28 August 2013, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
Could this be because a lot of young adults have moved back in with their parents. I might be wrong, but I think over the past 5-6 years or so, people have gradually started accepting people living with their parents. Used to be that "a 30 year old who lives with his mom" was a common insult. I just don;t see people talking about that anymore. Probably because the economy has been down for so long, more people know people who have moved back with their parents, which removes the stigma
With a vast majority of the population of homeless people we see (veterans or not), there are three contributing factors other than simply being too poor to afford housing: mental illness (about 1/3), alcohol or drug dependency (2/3), and domestic abuse (about 1/3, and yes, there is a great deal of overlap when you add those numbers together). Generally speaking, the main factors in becoming homeless are one or more of those significant factors, plus the lack of family/friend support, plus the long-term loss of income. Recent college grads and the 18-25-year-olds tend to have better support in place, and flexibility in income (no kids to support, no significant bills other than student loans), so they tend not to experience homelessness like older age groups do.

Also, on the topic of definition, the last time I've heard of it being redefined was in the HEARTH act of 2009, with the last tweak in 2011/2012: https://www.onecpd.info/resource/197...-homelessness/ Notably, this would put it at the end of the period in which homelessness began declining, not the beginning.

Hope all this helps.
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  #19  
Old 28 August 2013, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mateus View Post
I'm not sure which homeless advocates you're listening to, but the article is derived from the publicly-available reports from NAEH, one of the biggest players in the industry. I have yet to hear anyone say anything that contradicts this reporting or the source material it was derived from.
I have no cites as I've seen it only in writing but many homeless advocate groups (no idea if they are a specific larger group or a local thing) have been saying for at least as long as I've been here that the homeless rate is climbing and some have stated "it's as high as it's ever been".
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  #20  
Old 28 August 2013, 07:57 PM
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It is possible that homelessness in a particular area, or amongst a particular demographic is going up as it goes down overall nationwide.
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