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HUD Report Provides Insight into Homeless Numbers

MPLP Spring 2007 Housing Law Section Newsletter Article

Issue 33, Spring 2007

HUD report provides insight into homeless numbers and characteristics


On February 28, HUD issued its first Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR).  As noted in the report, it was prepared in response to Congressional directives and as part of the Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) process.  The report is based on HMIS data on sheltered homeless persons (in this case, persons who used emergency shelter and transitional housing programs during a 3 month period in 2005) and on data provided by local Continuums of Care (CoC) on sheltered and unsheltered persons based on a 1 night count in January 2005.  HUD acknowledges the reliability of its data is limited, and so, says the AHAR should be considered “a work in progress”.


According to CoC date, 415,000 persons in the U.S. were in emergency shelter and transitional housing (“sheltered homeless”) and 338,781 were unsheltered on a single date in January 2005.   The AHAR estimates that at some time during the period from February-April 2005, there were 704,000 sheltered homeless persons. 


According to the report, while men living alone comprise 20% of poor people in the U.S., they account for 47% of the sheltered homeless population.  Compared with 31% of the total population, members of minority groups make up 59% of the sheltered homeless population (and 55% of the poverty population).  Almost a quarter of the sheltered homeless are 17 or younger, a lower percentage than that group’s share of the poverty population.  Less than 2% of sheltered homeless are seniors (62 and above); seniors account for about 15% of the total population.  The data suggests that 25% of the sheltered homeless are disabled.


The report data shows that homelessness is concentrated in central cities, which the report attributes in part to there being more affordable housing options in rural areas and more shelter opportunities in central cities.  About ½ of homeless persons in suburban and rural areas are in families with children, and more than half are white, non-Hispanic; in central cities, more than 70% of the homeless population consists of individuals, and a little more than a 1/3 are white, non-Hispanic.    


The full report is available at

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