Homelessness has many causes and many faces. It can affect anyone, even those who have worked hard all of their lives. Following are some little-known facts on homelessness, including the scope of the problem and the success of programs like ours that seek to find permanent solutions.
- According to the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, 549,928 people in the United States were homeless on a single night last year.
- The National Alliance to End Homeless 2017 Report defines “unsheltered” as those living outside, in a car, or in a place not meant for human habitation. Last year, 66% of those unsheltered were males, 23% were females, and 11% were families with children. (Unsheltered Homelessness: Trends, Strategies, and Causes to Address)
- Homeless youth – under 25 years old – and chronically homeless individuals with a disability were most likely to be at risk of being unsheltered in 2016. 46% of homeless youth were unsheltered, and 68% chronically homeless individuals with a disability were unsheltered. (Unsheltered Homelessness: Trends, Strategies, and Causes to Address)
- Nearly one-fifth of all people experiencing homelessness were children under age 18. (AHAR, 2016)
- Families account for 35% of all people facing homelessness. (AHAR, 2016)
- Veterans comprise 9% of all people facing homelessness, or 39,471 individuals. (AHAR, 2016)
Homelessness in Massachusetts
- In 2016, Massachusetts had 19,608 people facing homelessness on a given night. This number is up by 4,481 people (29.6%) from 2007 but down by 7.2% between 2015 and 2016. (AHAR)
- 13, 174 people in families with children were homeless on a single night in Massachusetts last year. This number up by 92.7% since 2007 but down by 10.7% between 2015 and 2016 (AHAR)
- 949 veterans were homeless on a given night in Massachusetts in 2016. (AHAR)
- Due to the high cost of living, permanent housing can sometimes be out of reach. According to 2017 statistics from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (Out of Reach 2017):
- The Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in MA is $1, 424.
- In order to afford rent and utilities and spend only 30% of income for housing, a household needs to earn $56, 967 annually/ $27.39 a hour.
- The average renter’s wage is $19.70.
- A person making minimum wage ($11) would have to work 100-hours per week, 52 weeks a year, to afford the two bedroom rental home. For a 1-bedroom rental home, a person making minimum wage would have to work 80 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.
Reasons for Hope
- Massachusetts ranks among the states with the lowest percentage of homeless people who are unsheltered, at 3.9%. (AHAR, 2016)
- There are families and individuals facing setbacks, such as loss of a job, and need only temporary help getting back on their feet. Families staying at the Emmaus Family House typically stay for just 2-8 months before finding more permanent housing. Those in our emergency shelter for individuals often stay for less than 3 months.
- Over the past three years, Emmaus has placed nearly 500 homeless families in stable housing and helped hundreds more at-risk families stay in their own homes.
To learn more, download our Homelessness Fact Sheet.