This year, the U.S. is experiencing its most significant spike in homelessness, highlighting its ongoing struggle with a severe homelessness crisis.
According to a recent analysis, the homeless population across the U.S. has risen by around 11 percent this year. This analysis represents the most significant increase since the government began monitoring these statistics 15 years ago.
The Journal’s examination of data from over 300 organizations that track homelessness found that more than 577,000 people are without homes this year. Excluding the initial year of the COVID pandemic, the second-largest rise in homelessness was a 2.7 percent increase in 2019.
Several factors contribute to the crisis, with rising housing costs playing a central role. As COVID relief measures have ended and eviction bans lifted, housing expenses have become an even more pressing factor driving homelessness.
Executive director Donald Whitehead Jr. of The National Coalition for the Homeless expressed that the COVID relief funds acted as a temporary shield, stating, “We’re seeing what happens when those resources aren’t available.”
Rental prices have surged since the pandemic began, and many Americans find the current national median rent price of $2,029 unaffordable. Rent costs have soared by over 15 percent nationwide since the pandemic’s onset.
The nationwide drug addiction problem is another contributing factor to homelessness. In 2022 an unprecedented 109,680 individuals died from drug overdoses. Washington and Wyoming witnessed the most significant increase in overdose deaths last year, at 22 percent.
Several urban areas, particularly on both coasts, are battling an escalation in homelessness. In San Francisco, approximately 38,000 individuals are homeless on any night, marking a 35 percent increase since 2019. Los Angeles County’s homeless population has risen by 9 percent, reaching about 75,518 people this year, while New Orleans has seen its homeless numbers climb by almost 15 percent.
New York City’s homelessness crisis has been further aggravated by the arrival of over 90,000 illegal migrants since last April. Currently, around 55,000 are being accommodated by the city, pushing local shelters to their limits. The city is now providing shelter to an unprecedented 105,800 people.
In Massachusetts, officials urge citizens to consider housing illegal immigrants, as shelters are overburdened. The request came after Democratic Governor Maura Healey declared the migrant crisis a state of emergency.
Additionally, the homelessness issue is sparking rising crime in various urban areas. Cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Portland, and Philadelphia are witnessing a surge in open-air drug markets and violent crimes associated with homeless individuals, creating frustration among residents and businesses and driving them away from affected neighborhoods.