Washington, D.C. -- A report approved today by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors reveals a slight decrease in the overall number of homeless people in the area, marking the first decline in three years.
The seventh annual “Homeless Enumeration for the Washington Metropolitan Region,” which tallies the region’s homeless population on a single day, counted 11,762 people in COG’s major jurisdictions who are homeless, compared with 12,126 in 2006. The decline is the first since 2004, and coincides with an increase in the number of formerly homeless who moved into stable settings known as permanent supportive housing. There were 4,696 formerly homeless in supportive housing in 2007, compared with 4,349 in 2006 and 3,428 in 2004.
“The jurisdictions of this region are working diligently to reduce the number of homeless individuals and families, but the report indicates that much more needs to be done," said Michael L. Ferrell, chair of COG’s Homeless Services Committee and executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless. "The rise in chronically homeless individuals -- not to mention the number of people who remain homeless despite being employed -- tell us there's a need for more services and support."
Among the total number of individuals and families counted for the report, those who are chronically homeless -- continuously without a home for at least one year or experiencing four episodes of homelessness within three years -- rose slightly. There were 3,063 chronically homeless, compared with 3,077 in 2006. At the same time, 25 percent of homeless individuals and 43 percent of homeless parents were employed at the time the count took place.
COG’s annual enumeration provides a “snapshot” of the homeless people who come into contact with service providers on a single day, and is not intended as a scientific count of the population trend over time. Until the regional enumeration began in 2001, it was not possible to aggregate data on homelessness in the region with any degree of confidence.
This year’s report is based on a one-day count of the homeless population conducted on January 25 in the area’s nine major jurisdictions.
Click here for a copy of the full report, which includes separate enumeration reports for each participating jurisdiction.