The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released its latest report into homelessness in the United States, finding that some 580,000 Americans were sleeping rough in 2020. Last year, levels of homelessness climbed for the fourth consecutive year, growing two percent. That was driven by increases in the unsheltered homeless population between 2019 and 2020.
The number of people sleeping in sheltered locations such as emergency shelters or transitional housing grew by 0.6 percent while there was a seven percent increase in the number of people sleeping outdoors, whether that was the street, abandoned buildings or locations unfit for human habitation. The report found that 61 percent of all homeless Americans were staying in sheltered locations last year while 39 percent were sleeping rough outdoors.
Despite the recent increases, the report notes that the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2020 was 10 percent lower than in 2007 when the data was first reported. Even though unsheltered homelessness has risen significantly over the past five years, it has actually experienced a long-term decline of 12 percent.