Homelessness Rate Nearly Unchanged in 2012
Even though the homeless rate stayed virtually the same over the last year, the number of homeless veterans declined, according to federal estimates.
There were 633,782 people who went to bed homeless on a single night in January, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This represents just a slight decline from 2011 but a 5.7 percent drop since 2007.
The federal government's annual "point-in-time" measurement seeks to track the number of people who are homeless on a single night in January each year. The count is based on data reported by thousands of cities and counties.
The latest count also reveals that while the total number of homeless people who are in shelters has remained roughly the same since 2007, the number of homeless people living on the streets rather than in shelters has fallen more than 13 percent to 243,627 during the same period.
The data is used to help state and local governments apply for grants from HUD.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said that its goal is to end homelessness by 2015. In particular, it has focused its efforts on homeless veterans and homeless families.
As of January, there were 62,619 homeless veterans -- down 7.2 percent from the previous year. White House officials have attributed that decline to a partnership between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). HUD provides veterans with rental vouchers, and the VA offers case management as well as other support services.
The country's progress in reducing homelessness appears to have slowed this year. Last year's survey showed an overall 2.1 percent drop in the homeless rate, compared to a less than 0.4 percent reduction this year.