Lack of Affordable Housing Drives Increase in Homelessness in D.C. Region

May 14, 2014

Several news outlets covered the report, including The Washington Post, WTOP, and Bethesda Now. 

Washington, D.C. – According to an annual report by the Council of Governments, there are 11,946 homeless people living in the Metropolitan Washington region – a 3.5 percent increase from 2013. The report, Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington, which contains the results of the 14th annual count of the region’s homeless population, was released during the COG Board of Directors meeting.

The regional increase was primarily driven by homeless persons in the District of Columbia, while seven of nine jurisdictions achieved decreases in their homeless populations through local government housing initiatives and participation in national efforts such as the 100,000 Homes Campaign. The report also revealed family homelessness in the region rose by 11 percent since the 2013 count.

According to this year’s report, Arlington, Fairfax, and Montgomery counties had the biggest decreases (188, 125, and 113 persons respectively) in the number of homeless people in the region. Though overall homelessness in the region is higher, significant decreases in homelessness in individual jurisdictions and among the chronically homeless across jurisdictions are due to strategies such as prevention, rapid re-housing, and prioritizing the most vulnerable chronically homeless persons for permanent supportive housing placements. The report shows a 25 percent reduction in the unsheltered homeless population.

The report stresses “the greatest barrier to ending homelessness in our communities is a lack of fixed, affordable permanent housing opportunities for the lowest income households.” It also points out that sequestration, the automatic budget cuts passed by Congress, imperil federal grants and funds for Housing Choice Vouchers that have provided valuable services and helped reduce homelessness.

This report was compiled by the COG Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee.

 

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