The Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) report highlights data focused on people living in homeless services system shelters throughout 2019 and 2020. This timeframe paints a picture of the status quo both immediately before and after the pandemic began. These five patterns will be ones to monitor as new data emerges.

  1. Shelters Served Targeted Populations In the first year of the pandemic, a greater share of the people staying in shelters were a part of populations with higher needs.
  2. Black Families are in a Housing Crisis Various sources, including the annual Point-in-Time Count and evictions research, regularly point to Black families experiencing a unique housing crisis. The recent AHAR Part 2 report only adds to this evidence.
  3. Shelter Use was Likely Impacted by Housing Stability Overall, the number of people staying in shelters fell 14 percent between 2019 and 2020. Two major factors may have played a part in this decrease: reduced shelter capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions and the presence of a nationwide eviction moratorium.
  4. First-Time Homelessness was Prevalent Even during the pandemic, most people in shelters (59 percent) were experiencing homelessness for the first time. This data matches the data reported in past AHAR reports.
  5. Far More Research is Needed So much is unknown about the people who were served by homeless services systems during this period and those who were not. Far more people in shelters were people with disabilities, people who were chronically homeless, and people fleeing domestic violence. What long-term outcomes will such groups realize from COVID-relief and receiving services during a period of decreased demand (if any)? What about all those people and families who stayed put during the pandemic? What benefits and drawbacks did they experience?

Read the full article about homelessness during the COVID-29 pandemic by Joy Moses at National Alliance to End Homelessness.