Louisiana's homeless population declines nearly 20% since 2016, according to HUD report

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana's population has declined by over 17 percent in the last year, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The report comes as the homelessness population is on the rise on the West Coast. HUD says across the country; 553,742 people were homeless on a single night in 2017. That represents a .7 percent increase nationally over last year.

"HUD remains committed to our state and local partners, to fighting homelessness in Louisiana and throughout the country," said Beth Van Duyne, HUD Regional Administrator.   "While 2017 saw a small rise in overall homelessness in the state as well as veteran homelessness, levels of family homelessness dropped over 36 percent, which is great progress."

On a single night in January 2017, state and local planning agencies (Continuums of Care) in Louisiana reported:

  • 3,305 people were homeless representing an overall 17.3 percent decrease from 2016 and a 73.5 percent decrease since 2010.
  • 2,330 were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while 975 persons were unsheltered.
  • The number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined 8.8 percent since 2016 and 68.7 percent since 2010.
  • Veteran homelessness decreased 4.25 percent since January 2016.  Since 2010, however, Veteran homelessness in Arkansas declined 46.1 percent.  On a single night in January 2017, 383 Veterans were experiencing homelessness.
  • Chronic or long-term homelessness among individuals increased 8.4 percent over 2016 levels (or 48 persons).
  • The number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children in 2017 is estimated to be 408.  This year, HUD and local communities launched a more intense effort to more accurately account for this important, difficult to count population. HUD will treat 2017 as a baseline year for purposes of tracking progress toward reducing youth homelessness.

The report also says the number of homeless veterans in the state is down. Currently, there are  385 homeless veterans marking a 4.25 percent decrease since 2016 and an overall decrease of 68.7 percent since 2010.

HUD's national estimate is based upon data reported by approximately 3,000 cities and counties across the nation.  Every year on a single night in January, planning agencies called 'Continuums of Care" and tens of thousands of volunteers seek to identify the number of individuals and families living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered settings.

These one-night 'snapshot' counts, as well as full-year counts and data from other sources (U.S. Housing Survey, Department of Education), are crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress toward reducing it.

"In many high-cost areas of our country, especially along the West Coast, the severe shortage of affordable housing is manifesting itself on our streets," said HUD Secretary Ben Carson.  "With rents rising faster than incomes, we need to bring everybody to the table to produce more affordable housing and ease the pressure that is forcing too many of our neighbors into our shelters and onto our streets.  This is not a federal problem—it's everybody's problem."

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