To reach the goal of ending chronic homelessness next year, Congress should appropriate the $2.664 billion requested in HUD’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 so that the needed 25,000 new units of permanent supportive housing can be built and so that homeless persons with disabilities are not living outside on the streets for more than a year. In 2015, on a given night, there were 53,350 unsheltered chronically homeless individuals and 4,426 unsheltered chronically homeless persons in families, yet there was not enough transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, safe haven, rapid rehousing, and other permanent housing beds for 26,000 to 34,000 chronically homeless individuals without shelter nor for 600 to 1,200 chronically homeless persons in families.
There are chronically homeless individuals without shelter or housing in every state and in almost every continuum of care (CoC) area. According to data from the 2015 Point-in-Time Count, chronically homeless individuals were without shelter in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and in 375 of the nation’s 403 CoC areas. To provide shelter or housing to every chronically homeless individual who was without shelter on a given night, an additional 26,820 to 34,027 beds are needed in at least 34 to 40 states and in at least 168 to 226 CoC areas, if every empty transitional housing bed, permanent supportive housing bed, rapid rehousing bed, and safe haven bed in a CoC for homeless individuals is considered available.
Large numbers of chronically homeless individuals are without access to shelter or housing in locations where sleeping outdoors can become life-threatening due to freezing temperatures or cool temperatures combined with high winds or precipitation. One hundred or more additional shelter beds for chronically homeless individuals are needed in 61 to 74 CoC areas located in 14 to 17 states. These areas include wintry locations in northern California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington.
The need for additional shelter or housing resources for chronically homeless individuals has been similar over the past two years. There were an additional 1,746 unsheltered chronically homeless individuals on a given night in 2015 than on a given night in 2014 and the 26,820 to 34,027 additional units needed on a given night in 2015 is similar to the 27,532 to 32,283 additional units needed on a given night the year before.
Although there are larger numbers of chronically homeless individuals without shelter, there are also many chronically homeless persons in families without shelter throughout the country. In 2015, there were 4,426 unsheltered persons in chronically homeless families in 42 states and in 145 CoCs. An additional 612 to 1,213 beds are needed in at least 12 to 22 states and in at least 23 to 47 CoCs to provide shelter to every chronically
Likewise, there are chronically homeless families without access to shelter or housing in geographic areas where those sleeping outdoors can be exposed to life-endangering weather conditions. These areas include Alaska, California, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia.
While the need for additional shelter and housing resources for chronically homeless individuals has remained fairly steady over the past two years, the need for additional shelter or housing resources for chronically homeless families has decreased slightly over the past two years. There were 816 fewer unsheltered chronically homeless persons in families on a given night in 2015 than in 2014 and 729 to 967 fewer additional units needed on a given night in 2015 than in 2014.
With a continued disparity over the past two years of approximately 26,000 to 35,000 between the number of chronically homeless individuals and chronically homeless persons in families and the number of available transitional housing, permanent housing, safe haven, and rapid rehousing beds in each continuum of care, Congress should provide the $2.664 billion requested for homeless assistance so that 25,000 units of permanent supportive housing can be provided for these individuals and families. By providing these units, Congress can end chronic homelessness and make significant inroads into ending homelessness among individuals and families. When the Senate appropriations committee considers the transportation and housing (THUD) appropriations bill this week, it should increase the $2.3 billion allocated for homeless assistance grants to $2.664 billion to provide funding for these permanent supportive housing units.