The release of the 2015 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) Part 2 reinforces the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its Federal partners’ continued commitment to providing policy-makers and practitioners with information needed to help prevent and end homelessness. It also demonstrates the commitment to continuously improve the data we collect and report on ending homelessness.
Using data from local Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS), the 2015 AHAR Part 2 provides the latest information on people experiencing homelessness nationwide during a one-year period. Since HUD began tracking this information in 2007, 104,000 fewer people experienced sheltered homelessness, a 6.5 percent decline. Between 2014 and 2015 alone, the number of people experiencing homelessness declined by 0.3 percent, with a greater decline – 2.9 percent – among people in families with children.
For the second year, the AHAR includes complementary data, like the American Housing Survey and the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) data, to paint a more complete picture of homelessness and housing instability for all populations, including children and families. These data play a critical role in helping the federal government, states, and local communities reach the goal of ending homelessness. Comprehensive data are critical to understanding the need in our communities and the resources necessary to serve any person who is experiencing homelessness or housing instability. HUD values and takes into account all of this data available to understand homelessness and encourages communities to do the same.
The 2015 report also includes more robust information on housing options for survivors of domestic violence. Nearly 12 percent of emergency shelter, transitional housing, and safe haven beds are dedicated to survivors of domestic violence – roughly 56,000 beds.
HUD continues to improve its data collection on homeless youth. In 2015, HUD expanded the age breakdown in every category to include data on youth ages 18 to 24. The report shows that 11 percent of people experiencing sheltered homelessness over the course of the reporting year were youth aged 18 to 24. Among people over age 18 in families with children experiencing sheltered homelessness over the year, 16 percent were age 18 to 24. HUD is committed to continuing to expand the data collected on youth experiencing homelessness in the AHAR. Part of this commitment is reflected in the announcement to establish 2017 as the baseline Point-in-Time (PIT) count year. As we have greater confidence in the data we collect on youth experiencing homelessness, we will better be able to understand and serve these youths.
In keeping with ongoing federal priorities, the 2015 report also shows a 6 percent increase in the number of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) beds since 2014 and an even larger increase in the number of people living in PSH. The nation continues to strive to end chronic homelessness and, in particular, homelessness among veterans. New data presented in this report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) HOMES system augment our understanding of the way in which PSH is serving veterans who have experienced homelessness, specifically providing information about veterans served through the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program.
While the 2015 AHAR Part 2 reports key findings of interest to national, state, and local stakeholders, it also demonstrates that we are improving our data collection, our understanding of what the data mean, and our willingness to make improvements along the way. These types of ongoing data improvements are important elements in the equation of ending homelessness in our country, once and for all.
To access the full report, HMIS public use data, and the methodology report, view the 2015 AHAR Part 2 resource page on the HUD Exchange.