The Changing Face of Homelessness: Findings from the 2009 U.S. Conference of Mayors Report on Hunger and Homelessness

A new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors reveals that while more chronically homeless individuals are finding permanent housing, family homelessness is on the rise. This article examines these and other findings of the 2009 “Hunger and Homelessness Survey: A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America's Cities.” HRC’s Laura Winn shares an overview of the report.

According to a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the landscape of homelessness is being redrawn in cities across the nation. While Ten Year Plans have helped more individuals exit homelessness, family homelessness is growing. This shift is changing the face of homelessness and prompting city leaders to reevaluate how homeless services are provided.

Hunger and Homelessness Survey: A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America's Cities” surveyed the status of hunger and homelessness in 27 cities across the United States. The report was released in early December 2009.

Despite the recession, the report found that 64% of cities had fewer or the same number of individuals living in homeless shelters over the past year. Most cities attribute declines to Ten-Year Plans for ending chronic homelessness among single adults.

However, 76% of cities reported an increase in the number of homeless families over the past year. The recession and a lack of affordable housing are cited as likely causes. These findings represent a continuation of national trends reported in HUD’s most recent Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.

The survey of city officials revealed:

  • 96% of city officials requested more mainstream assisted housing (e.g., Housing Choice Vouchers);
  • 78% cited a need for improved employment opportunities; and
  • 74% identified the need for more permanent supportive housing for people with disabilities.

In addition, 72% of cities reported that funds from the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program will “fundamentally change the way [their] community provides services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.” Cities are using HPRP funds to develop central intake systems for homeless services, coordinate services more closely with surrounding areas, or offer homeless prevention assistance for the first time.

The report is based on data collected from the U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness questionnaire. Twenty-seven cities completed the survey, reporting on city residents who received food and shelter services between October 2008 and September 2009.

Additionally, the report contains individual profiles of each city, including the median household income, the unemployment rate, the foreclosure rate, the percentage of people who fall below the poverty line, and contact information for service providers. Read more about the report: "Hunger and Homelessness Survey: A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America's Cities.

Publication Date: 
Rockville, MD, USA