HUD reports drop in individual, family homelessness in city

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released its 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report: Part 1 (AHAR) to Congress. This yearly national report benchmarks homelessness across the country.

Nationally, homelessness has gone up. In Philadelphia, according to the 2020 Point in Time (PIT) count, homelessness had gone down.

Nationally, the number of people who are unsheltered increased by 2.2% between 2019 and 2020. Philadelphia saw a 1.54% decrease with a 12% decrease in chronic homelessness during that same time.

Nationally, there was no progress on reducing family homelessness between 2019 and 2020.

In Philadelphia, however, family homelessness has gone down 25% from 2017 to 2020.

In an email announcement, Liz Hersh, Director of the City's Office of Homeless Services, said "This is good news. It means that Philadelphia’s commitment to housing first, homelessness prevention and a strong, coordinated community response through our amazing, dedicated provider network is working – against the odds."

The HUD report noted, Hersh said, that "At the same time, too many people – especially people of color – experience homelessness. COVID has added a level of hardship for those who are most vulnerable. Our shelters have maintained an extraordinarily low COVID infection rate – under 3%. But we still have too many people on the street."

Advocates have expressed concern at the claim that the COVID infection rate is low in city shelters, since only shelters where there has been an "outbreak" are required to test participants.

"We have a partner in Washington, D.C., new HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge," Hersh said "Onward in our journey to making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring in Philly."

To read the full HUD report, go here.