Every night, an estimated 326,000 homeless people are sheltered in emergency or temporary transitional housing in the U.S., according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report, released Feb. 4, 2022.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report, which is based on research from 2021, found that 45 percent of people in homeless shelters are Black.
Black people are no longer the majority of the homeless population. This is a marked change from the previous HUD report, released in 2020 using 2019 data. According to the older report, 52 percent of homeless families in 2019 were Black. The total number of homeless families declined by 5 percent between 2018 and 2019.
The 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report found that an estimated 568,000 people experienced homelessness in a single night in the U.S. Black people made up more than half of the homeless population, despite comprising only 13 percent of the population, USA Today reported in 2020. By comparison, whites, who make up 77 percent of the population, accounted for 48 percent of homeless people in 2019.
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The latest HUD report finds that between 2020 and 2021, the number of Black or African American people staying in shelters dropped by 12 percent. While Black people are no longer the majority of homeless, they are disproportionately represented in the homeless population.
The most recent report found that nearly half of people experiencing homelessness (46 percent in 2021) were individuals staying in sheltered locations; 37 percent of people experiencing homelessness were in families with children staying in sheltered locations, 15 percent were unsheltered individuals, and three percent were unsheltered people in families with children.
Systemic inequity is one of several factors that lead to Black homelessness, according to experts.
Poverty, segregation, rental housing discrimination, incarceration, access to quality health and mental health care are among the factors leading to Black homelessness.
“Disproportionality in homelessness is a by-product of systemic inequity,” according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Photo: A homeless man sleeps on the steps of a police station in Los Angeles’ Skid Row area, home to the nation’s largest concentration of homeless people, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)