Homelessness down but seen rising anew: report
U.S. homelessness slipped 1 percent from 2009 to 2011, but the sluggish economy left more poor people struggling to pay for housing and just a step away from shelters, an advocacy group said in a new study on Wednesday.
The drop to 636,017 homeless people last year could prove short-lived, since it was likely due to $1.5 billion in federal aid that will run out this year, the National Alliance to End Homelessness said in its report.
"The fact that homelessness dropped in the middle of a downturn is counter-intuitive," Nan Roman, the Alliance's president and chief executive, told a news conference.
The federal aid, part of an economic stimulus package, "seems to have worked," she said.
The Alliance, which groups public, private and non-profit organizations, said the biggest decrease in homelessness was among veterans, with the number falling 11 percent to 67,495 in 2011.
The overall decline in homelessness, however small, may not last long. Current trends point to the number of homeless people rising about 5 percent through 2013, Peter Witte, a researcher who compiled the study, told reporters.
In one indicator of possible trouble, the number of poor households that spent more than half their incomes on rent -- defined as "severely housing cost burdened" -- rose 6 percent to 6.2 million, the report said.
The number of people living "doubled up" with friends, relatives or others jumped 13 percent to 6.8 million. "Doubling up" is the usual step before people move into shelters, Witte said.
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January 17, 2012