Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
Key Facts about Homelessness

Facts on Adult Chronic Homelessness

  • On any given day, at least 800,000 people are homeless in the United States.
  • The 2007 Annual Point-in-Time Survey of homeless people conducted by the Worcester County Continuum of Care found that there were 691 homeless individuals in Worcester County when the survey was conducted in January.
  • Agencies serving the homeless in the Worcester area provide services to about 2,000 homeless individuals annually 10-20 percent of whom are chronically homeless adults.
  • While chronically homeless adults represent only about 10 to 20 percent of the overall homeless population, they use a disproportionate share of healthcare and behavioral health services.
  • The mortality rate among homeless adults is estimated to be 3 to 6 times that of the general population.
  • Despite efforts to address the needs of chronically homeless adults, the number of chronically homeless people in the US continues to rise by 10 percent each year.
  • The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines chronically homeless adults as "an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who had either been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years."

Who Becomes Homeless (Information from the National Housing Alliance)

  • Victims of domestic abuse: very often women who are forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness.
  • Veterans: 40% of homeless men have served in the armed forces. It has been estimated that on any given night 271,000 veterans are homeless in the United States.
  • People with mental illness: approximately 20-25% of the single adult population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness. Only 5-7 percent of homeless people with mental illness require institutionalization; most can live in the community with appropriate supportive housing options. Homeless people with mental illness remain homeless longer and have less contact with family and friends.
  • People suffering from addiction: There are high numbers of men suffering from addiction disorders that are also homeless -although most people addicted to drugs and alcohol do not become homeless. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that the intense competition for low-income housing in the last two decades has put those with a history of mental illness and drug addiction out into the streets. For those on the brink of homelessness, becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol can very likely cause them to end up on the streets. Many homeless people wish to end their addictions but find it hard to do so while living on the streets without access to appropriate services.
  • The poor and the working poor: People can become homeless when they suffer job loss, are forced to live on very low wages, or suffer a major financial loss caused by things like catastrophic illness or mortgage foreclosure. The 2005 US Conference of Mayors’ survey of 24 cities found that 15 percent of the urban dwellers who were homeless were employed, but could not afford housing. Years of declining jobs (even though they are now improving) and declining wages have continually placed housing out of reach for many and pushed more people toward becoming homeless.
  • Those without access to homes: The increasing lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs have contributed to homelessness. The reduction in SROs (single room occupancy) through redevelopment of urban neighborhoods has cut out a major portion of the affordable housing stock.

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