Washington, D.C. (May 10, 2017) – According to a 2017 report by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), there are 11,128 persons experiencing homelessness in the area – a 9 percent decrease (or 1,087 people) from 2016. The report, Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington, contains the results of the 17th annual census of the region’s residents experiencing homelessness—a one day “snapshot” of people living within nine area jurisdictions.
Seven of the nine participating metropolitan Washington jurisdictions recorded decreases in the number of persons experiencing homelessness from 2016 to 2017.
The District of Columbia experienced the largest decrease in the number of persons experiencing homelessness, counting 877 fewer individuals. Loudoun County achieved the greatest percentage decrease at 16 percent (or 21 individuals). Arlington County recorded an increase of 33 percent or 58 individuals, with Prince William County’s count remaining unchanged at 400 individuals.
For the five-year period of 2013-2017, the region reduced the number of individuals experiencing homelessness by four percent. However, families experiencing homelessness has remained a challenge for the region, increasing by 1.6 percent over the same five-year period.
Every jurisdiction in the region has also made considerable progress in reducing the number of veterans experiencing homelessness; since 2013, the region has achieved a 41 percent reduction in the incidence of veteran homelessness, exceeding the national rate of reduction by six percent.
The number of formerly homeless persons continued its positive upward trend in 2017. On the night of the count, 19,136 people were residing in some form of permanent or permanent supportive housing and were no longer considered homeless. In addition, the number of chronically homeless persons, an individual experiencing long-term or repeated homelessness with a disabling condition, declined by 22 percent between 2013 and 2017.
Michael Ferrell, COG Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee Chairman, said that the successes highlighted in the report can be attributed to the region’s dedication to providing shelter and wrap-around services to homeless individuals and families.
According to the report, stagnant wages and a lack of affordable, permanent housing opportunities remain the most significant and persistent obstacles to ending homelessness in the region. It calls on jurisdictions to continue efforts to reach out to and house unsheltered homeless persons, increase its permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing and other permanent housing inventory, and provide training opportunities to low-skilled and low-wage workers to “create ladders of opportunity” to higher-paying jobs.
The report was compiled by the COG Homeless Services Planning and Coordination Committee and released May 10 at the COG Board of Directors Meeting. Participating jurisdictions are: the City of Alexandria; Arlington County; the District of Columbia; Fairfax County, including data from the City of Falls Church and the City of Fairfax; Frederick City and County; Loudoun County; Montgomery County; Prince George’s County, including data from the City of Bowie; and Prince William County, including data from the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park.
MORE: Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington: Results and Analysis from the Annual Point in Time Count of Persons Experiencing Homelessness