Once a year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that each Continuum of Care, a local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for those experiencing homelessness, conducts a Point-in-Time (PIT) count of people experiencing homelessness in their communities. This means that one night a year, volunteers collect data on the people who are unhoused in their communities. While exhaustive, this is a rough snapshot of a much larger problem that is only growing. The method of data collection drastically underestimates the number of people currently experiencing homelessness and does not comprehensively account for those who are homeless but housed in their cars or with family members. While imperfect, this is the best method we currently have for tracking homelessness in this country.
According to the 2022 Point-in-Time count, on a single night, there are an estimated 582,462 people in the United States experiencing homelessness. That is an increase of .3% from 2020 and driven by an increase in people who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness. This refers to individuals sleeping in outdoors or places not typically used as a sleeping accommodation. More than one-third of those experiencing homelessness are sleeping in places not intended for human habitation.
Homelessness was once almost exclusively a male issue. While men still represent the majority of those who experience homelessness, with 60% of the population identifying as male, afar more diverse cross section of the general population is now affected.
As of 2022, women account for 38% of people experiencing homelessness. The increasing rate of homelessness among women is exacerbated by high rates of domestic, physical and sexual abuse.
Not since the Great Depression have so many families been homeless in the United States. Today, families account for nearly 30% of the total population of those experiencing homelessness.
Approximately 5% of people experiencing homelessness are unaccompanied youth under the age of 25.
Despite major strides over the past decade, 7% of all homeless adults are veterans. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless veteran population and now comprise 11% of the total number of veterans experiencing homelessness.
Approximately 20% of those unhoused have chronic patterns of homelessness, meaning they have been homeless for more than a year or have had multiple periods of homelessness throughout the preceding three years. The great majority of those who are chronically homeless, an estimated 62%, are unsheltered.
Alcohol and drug abuse are mistakenly considered the most common causes of homelessness. These may play a role in the stories of some, but we cannot point to them as the exclusive causes. In fact, simple economic challenges that could impact any of us at any time are more powerful and present forces. These include a dearth of affordable housing, lack of employment opportunities, and low wages. Many are living so close to economic disaster that one financial setback, such as job loss, car troubles, illness, divorce, abandonment, or any unexpected expense, can lead to the loss of their home.
Psychological or physical disabilities, learning disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, medical conditions, a history of childhood abuse, sexual abuse, or some combination of these also play a role. Domestic abuse is the leading cause of homelessness among women, and a shocking 84% of homeless women have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives.
Today’s housing solutions are more akin to Band-Aids than the surgery necessary. Lotus Campaign model is a holistic, systems changing answer that breaks the often-unrelenting cycle of homelessness.
Historically, the private sector has been absent from programs that address one of the most intractable issues of our time. In 2018, Lotus Campaign developed a vehicle that incentivizes professional landlords to rent to those experiencing homelessness. We have come to understand that stable housing for those experiencing homelessness is available; the units exist, but collaboration has been missing to unlock those doors. Using private capital, Lotus Campaign guarantees rent and other securities on market-rate units to offset credit checks and rental histories for people experiencing homelessness. All program participants also receive ongoing support from our social service partners, ensuring that they develop the necessary skills to stay healthy and housed. Landlords make no financial concessions and previously homeless people move into unstigmatized housing and thriving communities in a matter of days. The scope of America’s homelessness and affordable housing crisis goes beyond the public and nonprofit sectors’ capacity to fix alone. By developing a radically simple way to bring anew sector to the table, Lotus has activated for-profit partners as a part of the solution to homelessness, blazing a new trail and facilitating housing for nearly 400 people who would otherwise not have it.