WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released the latest national estimate of homelessness, highlighting a continuing decline across the nation. HUD’s 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found an overall 11 percent decline in the number of persons experiencing homelessness since 2010, including a 26 percent drop in the number of persons living on the streets.  In New Jersey, local communities reported a total of 10,098 persons experienced homelessness, representing a 26.5 percent decline since 2010, the year President Obama launched Opening Doors, the nation’s first-ever comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness.

Nationwide, Veteran homelessness declined 36 percent between 2011 and 2015 while family homelessness dropped 19 percent between 2010 and 2015. Meanwhile in New Jersey, Veteran homelessness declined 14.5 percent between 2011 and 2015 and family homelessness declined 45.8 percent between 2010 and 2015.

HUD’s annual report shows that certain communities are making significant progress, while others are struggling in light of the widespread housing affordability crisis and budget shortfalls.  The results are based on HUD’s ‘point-in-time’ estimates, which seek to measure the scope of homelessness on a single night in January each year. 

“The Obama Administration has made an historic commitment to effectively end homelessness in this nation. Together with our partners across the federal government and communities from coast to coast, we have made tremendous progress toward our ambitious goals. But our work is far from finished. We have to continue making smart investments in the strategies that work so that everyone has a roof over their head,” said HUD Secretary Castro.

“By reducing homelessness in the face of high housing costs, New Jersey is showing that ending homelessness is an achievable goal” said Holly Leicht, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey. “HUD is committed to continuing our partnership with mayors and homeless service providers across the state to give everyone in New Jersey the decent housing they deserve.”

Key Findings

On a single night in January 2015, state and local planning agencies in New Jersey reported the following estimates of homelessness:

Ø  Overall, homelessness declined by 3,639 persons or 26.5 percent since 2010.  In January 2015, an estimated 10,098 people were homeless on a given night.  Most (90 percent) were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and 10 percent were found in unsheltered locations. 

Ø  Homelessness among Veterans fell by 14.5 percent between 2010 and January 2015.  On a single night in January 2015, 696 veterans were homeless. HUD expects this trend to continue.

Ø  Local communities reported a 25.2 percent reduction in families experiencing homelessness between the 2014 and January 2015.  Since 2010, family homelessness declined by 45.8 percent.

Ø  In contrast to the national trend, chronic homelessness in New Jersey increased by 2.8 percent between January 2014 and January 2015, and by 34.2 percent since 2010.

Read more on homeless data reported on a state and community level.

Since the passage of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 1987, HUD has worked with communities to build the capacity of homeless programs across the country. By targeting investments to individuals and families who need assistance most – those living on the streets the longest or with the greatest barriers to housing – HUD is ensuring that its limited resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible. Despite increased requests in the President’s Budget each year, HUD homeless assistance funding has not kept pace with need.  This has resulted in an insignificant decrease in the number of persons experiencing chronic homelessness between 2014 and 2015. In the meantime, HUD continues to incentivize communities to target resources, prioritize assistance, and invest in programs with proven track records.

This year, HUD revised its data collection requirements on youth experiencing homelessness, which may result in increased point-in-time counts as communities improve their methodologies.  HUD is also working with communities to improve collection to better understand the size and scope of homelessness, including efforts like youth engagement and collaboration with schools and other youth-serving systems.  In addition, HUD is in the process of improving and updating its year-long data collection on youth, and now also includes data from the U.S. Department of Education and American Housing Survey in its Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. While HUD works to better understand how to most effectively count youth and provide critical services, it expects that in many communities counts will show more youth experiencing homelessness because of improved methodology.

Improved data collection is only part of HUD’s strategy to end homelessness. Across the nation, communities are implementing systems too quickly and effectively house individuals and families experiencing homelessness in a coordinated way. Working together across agencies, these communities are creating unprecedented partnerships toward achieving the national goal of ending homelessness.

Every year in late January, volunteers across the nation conduct a count of their local sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. These one-night ‘snapshot’ counts are then reported to HUD. This data is crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress in reducing it.  The point-in-time count only captures those persons sleeping in sheltered and unsheltered locations on the night of the count but is not reflective of who is eligible for HUD’s homeless assistance grants programs.