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Homelessness in USA
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Homelessness in the United States is an area of concern for social service providers, government officials, policy professionals, and society at large.[1] The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in January 2012 annual point-in-time count found that 633,782 people across America were homeless. With 2007 as a benchmark, the data from the report showed a 6.8 percent decline in homelessness among individuals, a 3.7 percent decline of homeless families, a 13.1 percent decline of the unsheltered homeless population, and a 19.3 percent decline in persons experiencing chronic homelessness. During the overall count, 62,619 veterans were found homeless nationwide.[2] Because of turnover in the homeless population, the total number of people who experience homelessness for at least a few nights during the course of a year is thought to be considerably higher than point-in-time counts. A 2000 study estimated the number of such people be between 2.3 million and 3.5 million.[3][4]
According to the United States Conference of Mayors, in 2008 the three most commonly cited causes of homelessness for persons and families were a lack of affordable housing, cited by 72 percent, poverty (52%), and unemployment (44%).[5]:19 The suggestions to alleviate homelessness included providing more housing for persons with disabilities (72%), creating more employment opportunities (68%), and building more assisted housing units (64%).[5]:20
Over the past decades, the availability and quality of data on homelessness has improved considerably, due, in part, to initiatives by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and several nongovernmental organizations working with homeless populations. Since 2007, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued an Annual Homeless Assessment Report, which revealed the number of individuals and families that were homeless, both sheltered and unsheltered. It standardized the data collection processes and created more opportunities for government officials and service providers to remedy the problem of homelessness in the United States.[6]
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