In March 2023, the Alliance will return to its West Coast conference format for the first time since February 2020. The conference’s focus on unsheltered homelessness makes the destination state of California as relevant as ever: two-thirds of California’s population experiencing homelessness is unsheltered, according to the 2022 Point-in-Time Counts. Half of the country’s unsheltered population lives in the Golden State.

The national picture, however, is changing, with California no longer looking like as much of an anomaly.

According to the 2020 AHAR Part 1, the 2019–2020 period represented the first time nationally that more people experienced unsheltered homelessness than sheltered homelessness. Unsheltered homelessness has risen steeply nationwide, up by 30.5% between 2015 and 2020.

There is a lot we can learn from California about approaches to unsheltered homelessness, both successful and unsuccessful. And there are a lot of hard questions to ask about unsheltered homelessness that we’ll need to address together. Both within the Alliance’s conference and outside of it, communities nationwide should be thinking strategically about solutions to unsheltered homelessness, and they should be asking themselves which approaches will ultimately end homelessness.

Asking the Right Questions to Find the Right Solutions

Increasing shelter and creating interim housing options to reduce unsheltered homelessness can be a critically important step for localities to address, especially given the documented health impacts of unsheltered homelessness. The longer someone is unsheltered, the greater their risk is of developing co-occurring conditions. Data shows that 50 percent of unsheltered people are trimorbid, and that many of those people did not suffer from these comorbidities when they first entered unsheltered homelessness.

Read the full article about unsheltered homelessness by Alex Visotzky at National Alliance to End Homelessness.