On any given night in January 2023, approximately 650,000 people were experiencing homelessness, according to the results of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Point-in-Time count released today. This finding represents a 12.1 percent increase in total homelessness from 2022 to 2023. Additionally, homelessness increased among those experiencing sheltered homelessness (14 percent) and unsheltered (10 percent) homelessness, as well as among people in families (16 percent), veterans (7 percent), and those experiencing chronic homelessness (12 percent).

These numbers are a jarring snapshot of the increasing housing affordability challenges Americans face and the lack of a long-term federal investment to meet the urgent need for affordable housing. This need is demonstrated not just by increased homelessness but also by multiyear increases in other measures of housing-related strain.

A record-breaking 8.53 million households were reported to be struggling with worst-case housing needs—meaning renter households with very low incomes who do not receive government housing assistance and who pay more than one-half of their income toward rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both. There is also a shortage of 7.3 million affordable and available homes for extremely low–income renters.

The data released today do not represent failures of the past year of homelessness response. The homelessness response system is working; it’s housing hundreds of thousands of people each year. In 2021, more than 378,000 people were served in permanent supportive housing (PSH) programs, and more than 235,000 people were served in rapid rehousing programs. From fiscal year 2021 to 2022, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported an 8 percent increase in the number of exits from homelessness to permanent housing.

Instead, these new data represent the effects of ongoing and continuous disinvestment in affordable housing infrastructure that spans decades.

Read the full article about homelessness by Samantha Batko and Kathryn Reynolds at Urban Institute.