Homelessness: Where Does Georgia Rank?

Cindy Morley

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development delivers an annual estimate to Congress of homeless people in the country. And based on the latest estimates from the federal government, there were 552,830 people experiencing homelessness across the United States in January 2018. This is based on the latest HUD study — which provides a snapshot of homelessness across the country on a single night.

In presenting the most current numbers recently, HUD Secretary Ben Carson reported that overall homelessness declined in 31 states and rose in 19 states. Over the period between 2007 and 2018, homelessness dropped in 39 states and increased in 11. Carson also reported that homelessness is on the rise in a number of major U.S. metropolitan areas, many of which are struggling to manage these increases.

So where does Georgia rank in homelessness?

According to most reports, Georgia is currently ranked 12th with an estimated 9,499 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to HUD. Approximately 37.9 percent (3,599 out of 9,499) of these were without shelter. Also, 812 were family households, 705 were Veterans, 494 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 1,080 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.

Public school data reported to the U.S. Department of Education during the 2016-2017 school year shows that an estimated 38,474 public school students experienced homelessness over the course of the year. Of that total, 732 students were unsheltered, 3,499 were in shelters, 6,700 were in hotels/motels, and 27,543 were doubled up.

The Georgia State Continuum of Care 2019 Point in Time Count Report showed a slightly different number. (A PIT count consists of counting both unsheltered and sheltered persons experiencing homelessness on a single night in January). According to this report, issued by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, a total of 4,183 people in the 152 counties of the Balance of State Continuum of Care were identified as Literally Homeless by HUD definition on the night of January 28, 2019 – a 13% increase from 2017. Of these, 54% were unsheltered; the other 46% were in emergency or transitional housing.

In this report, the homeless youth population is viewed in two ways: unaccompanied youth (youth under the age of 24) and parenting youth (youth under the age of 24 with child under the age of 18). The report indicated that the youth population of 372 persons represents 8 percent of the total homeless population.

Another report, a new study by Georgia State University study says more than half of the homeless youth in Atlanta have experienced some form of human trafficking. According to reports, the study also challenged the idea that the problem was limited to just sex trafficking, showing many homeless youth are also being forced into unpaid labor or simply being held in situations against their will. The study “also attempted to cast a broader net on the scope of youth homelessness, finding that many homeless youth who live in long-stay motels or couch surf had flown under the radar of previous surveys that had been conducted,” the report said.

Secretary Carson’s report indicated that California tops list of states with the most unsheltered homeless people.