US homelessness up 12% to highest reported level as rents soar pandemic aid lapses

Well, folks, the news is in and it appears that good ole American ingenuity isn’t just about putting a man on the moon, but also continually reaching new heights in homelessness. Our stars and stripes are fluttering strong above a 12% increase in homelessness, taking us back to the glory days of 2007 when we started this tally. Give yourselves a round of applause, America. We have 653,000 patriots without a roof over their heads. Beat that, rest of the world!

This skyrocketing increase in homelessness, according to the folks at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, is not surprising. But, hey, who doesn’t love a good plot twist? And just when things were looking brighter with a decrease in family homelessness, we’ve happily torpedoed that trend. Now we are back to breadlines and Hoovervilles, just without the snappy names. Thank goodness for that roaring 20’s spirit!

The Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge has pointed out the “urgent need” for solutions. Yep, Marcia, we see it! Might we suggest a couple of Band-Aids for this gaping wound?

Back in the day, we were doing quite well. We started counting our homeless comrades in 2007, and from then till 2017, the number of homeless individuals actually dipped. But, just like a bad stock investment, it’s shot right back up! It’s almost as if offering emergency rental assistance, stimulus payments, aid to states and local governments, and a temporary eviction moratorium only temporarily holds off a crisis. Who would’ve thought?

Jeff Olivet, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, has pointed out the rather obvious factors contributing to the problem. Apparently, the shortage of affordable homes and high cost of living have left many Americans a catastrophe away from sleeping on the sidewalks. Imagine that.

Related stat: homelessness increased nearly 11% among individuals and an impressive 15.5% among families with children. Hold on to your hats, because Black and Hispanic or Latino individuals are way overrepresented in the homeless population. In short, we’re killing it at inequality!

Meanwhile, our friends in California, New York, Florida, and Washington hold the honor of accommodating over half of the homeless population. California, you’ll be delighted to know, is managing to keep its increase to just about half the national rate. They always did have a knack for being different.

Now, New York, you’re really in a league of your own. You’ve managed to increase your homelessness more than three times the national rate. Somebody give New York a prize. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget New Hampshire, New Mexico and Colorado, who are also making impressive strides in raising their levels of homelessness.

Meanwhile, New York City is seeing the cost of housing skyrocket post-pandemic. And with the charming addition of an influx of asylum seekers, the homelessness situation is hitting new milestones. Mayor Adams, if you could maybe pass a hat around for some spare change, that would be grand.

In the midst of all this, HUD sweetly tries to highlight some positives, like Chattanooga, Tennessee, Dallas, Texas, and Newark and Essex County, New Jersey, where homelessness is actually decreasing. But let’s not allow these outliers to distract from the overall picture of spectacular failure.

So, as we march onwards and upwards in our quest to break our own homelessness records, let’s not forget to acknowledge our achievements thus far. Here’s looking at you, America. May your top hats remain as empty as your promises.