Washington, D.C. – According to a report by the Council of Governments, there are 11,547 homeless people living in metropolitan Washington this year—a 2.4 percent decrease from last year and a 4 percent decrease since 2009. The report, Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington, which includes the results of the 13th annual count of the region’s homeless population, was released during the COG Board of Directors meeting.
The report highlights three principal reasons for the decrease—a significant increase in the number of formerly homeless people in permanent supportive housing, shelter diversion and homeless prevention programs, and support from federal Rapid Re-Housing funds. For example, it notes that from 2009 to 2013, over 4,300 single individuals and family members are no longer considered homeless because they moved into permanent supportive housing.
According to this year’s report, the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County had the biggest percentage decreases in the region of single adult homeless individuals. The largest percent of the region’s homeless population continues to live in the District of Columbia.
At the meeting, several COG board members discussed initiatives in their local jurisdictions to bring the number of homeless persons to zero, but they expressed concerns over sequestration, the recently enacted automatic federal spending cuts. “Sequestration is putting local governments in a difficult position,” said Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova. She said programs to help homeless families are being adversely affected, and she called on her colleagues at COG to strongly advocate against these cuts. The report also stresses “the greatest barrier to ending homelessness in our communities is a lack of fixed, affordable permanent housing opportunities for the lowest income households.”
The annual count is conducted by area governments and homeless service providers as part of an ongoing effort to monitor and report on the number of people found on the streets, in emergency shelters, in transitional and permanent supportive housing, or otherwise homeless and in need of a safe shelter.
The figures from the count and analyses for each jurisdiction are then compiled by COG’s Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee. The final report also includes detailed statistics on:
- Household composition (Individuals, homeless families, homeless children)
- Homelessness and the Working Poor (employed but homeless adults)
- Subpopulations (substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence)
This year’s count occurred on January 30 and 31. The jurisdictions that participated in the count include the District of Columbia, Frederick County, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County in Maryland, and the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County in Virginia. COG member Charles County provides its homelessness data to the Baltimore U.S. Housing and Urban Development Field Office.
To view/download the report, click here.