Giving Compass' Take:

• Writing for the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Sharon McDonald presents uplifting news on the state of family homelessness and shares why now is the time to double down on effective efforts.

• How can we learn from what has worked to help reach our goals of eradicating homelessness? What can you do to support organizations that help people find homes and stay in them?

• Get a deeper understanding of child homelessness here.

Nearly 54,000 families were identified as experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2019. This represents a 4.7% reduction from the previous year and a 24% reduction since 2013. Family homelessness declined by over one-third in 34 states.

Despite progress, clear challenges remain. While unsheltered family homelessness declined sharply over the last six years, it remains alarmingly high. Nearly 8,000 children under the age of 18 were found without shelter on the night of the 2019 PIT count. There continues to be vast disparity in who experiences homelessness, with African-American individuals comprising 52% of people in families experiencing homelessness.

Today, localities have far more tools to assist families experiencing homelessness. In fact, nationally, there are more temporary housing units (emergency shelter or transitional housing) to provide respite to families than there are families experiencing homelessness at a point-in-time.

In other words, family homelessness is declining because homeless service providers are better equipped to help families reconnect to housing. This means that homeless episodes are shorter in many parts of the country. This alleviates the strain on temporary housing resources. When families have shorter homeless episodes, they exit temporary housing programs faster.

We see progress, but there is far more to do. It is not time to retrench. It is time to double down.

Homeless service providers must have the resources to provide safe respite to those without housing options. But they also need enough resources to re-house families who become homeless.

The Alliance estimates that homeless service providers nationally have capacity to re-house one-third of all families that enter a shelter or transitional housing program each year. This is a significant improvement over previous years but leaves too many families without support to exit homelessness. We need greater local, state, and federal investment so families can reconnect to housing.

Read the full article about family homelessness by Sharon McDonald at the National Alliance to End Homelessness.