Feb 7, 2022 - News

HUD report reveals D.C.'s homelessness highs and lows

A point-in-time count happening in D.C.
Volunteers conduct a survey with an unhoused couple in D.C. during the annual point-in-time homeless count. (Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

D.C. saw one of the nation’s largest declines in family homelessness between 2020 and 2021, and also had one of the nation’s highest rates of sheltered people experiencing chronic homelessness, per a new report out on Friday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Driving the news: HUD released the first part of its report on the annual point-in-time count from 2021, which assesses D.C. alongside the rest of the nation on sheltered homelessness, defined as individuals in shelters or transitional housing.

Why it matters: HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge has praised D.C.’s efforts to end homelessness, most recently joining Mayor Muriel Bowser to take part in this year’s point-in-time count.

Be smart: The Bowser administration has made ending homelessness a key goal — although COVID-19 derailed some of those plans, and the first phase of the plan fell short of its goals. The second phase was released last year and includes a more targeted focus on adult individual homelessness.

By the numbers:

  • D.C. joined more than half of the states that saw decreases in the number of individuals staying in shelters between 2020 and 2021.
  • D.C. saw one of the nation’s largest decreases in family homelessness with a decline of 49.2% between 2020 and 2021.
  • However, D.C. did see a 32.9% increase in unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness, or 77 youth under the age of 25.
  • In 2021, D.C. was among jurisdictions with the highest percentage (36.3%) of sheltered individuals who are chronically homeless, which are people with a disability who have been homeless for at least a year over three years.

The big picture: Compared to the rest of the nation, D.C. has steeper disparities among sheltered people experiencing homelessness.

  • Per D.C.’s 2021 count, 86% of people experiencing homelessness were Black, compared to 45.2% nationwide.
  • More than 63% of D.C.’s sheltered homeless in 2021 were men, compared to 56% nationwide.
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