- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
- Rep. Steve Stockman: Give my campaign $10, and you’ll get an Obama barf bag
- Putin: Russia to buy $15 billion in Ukraine bonds
- Expert: Obamacare ‘death spiral’ fears exaggerated
- Alabama firefighters dig for survivors of apartment blast
- Big Sur wildfire destroys home of firefighting chief
- ‘ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas’ set for mock trial to argue authorship
- Angela Merkel’s third term as Germany’s chancellor to be marked by move to left
- Mega Millions entices with record-setting jackpot: Half a billion so far
- Dennis Rodman heads to North Korea — despite execution, political purge
Report: Children lean on homeless services
Account for 1 in 5 people visiting missions, soup kitchens
A new snapshot of American homelessness finds that some 209,000 people visited soup kitchens, missions and emergency shelters in March 2010, the Census Bureau said Thursday.
About half of these people were young or middle-aged men. Adult women represented about a quarter of the population, and 1 in 5 — about 42,000 — were children.
New York and California had the highest number of people using homeless services, while the District was one of 10 cities with the largest number.
The Census Bureau clarified that its special report, “The Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population: 2010,” is not a tally of the U.S. homeless population.
There is “no standard or agreed upon definition of what constitutes homelessness,” it said. Although the census workers targeted all kinds of homeless services and even certain “outdoor locations,” “all people normally at these locations may not have been included in the count,” it said.
The new numbers come as the Obama administration pushes ahead with an ambitious “Opening Doors” plan to end U.S. homelessness within 10 years. Its goals are to end homelessness among military veterans by 2015, and homelessness for children, family and youths by 2020, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Nineteen federal agencies are collaborating with states and private groups to provide permanent housing, education and health services to these populations.
The homeless issue has long been bedeviled by questions over the size of its transient, dynamic and needy population. In the 1980s and 1990s, for instance, policy leaders and advocates argued over whether there were 600,000 homeless or 8 million.
The value of the new census report is that it marks the third time the bureau has taken steps to ensure “that all Americans are counted, regardless of their living situations,” said Barbara Poppe, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Thanks to census data, it’s possible “for researchers and the government to understand trends among those experiencing homelessness over the last 30 years,” she said.
Policy leaders, however, are now relying on regular, in-depth surveys, such as the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Recent HUD data found 636,017 people were homeless on a given night in January 2011, and that during fiscal 2010, 1.6 million people used homeless services at least once.
HUD data are comprehensive because they are derived from 3,000 cities and counties, and efforts are made to include people who don’t go to shelters but live on the streets or in public spaces.
“We use the [Annual Homelessness Assessment Report] data to drive our current strategies with an understanding of long-term trends that can be identified from census data,” Ms. Poppe said.
Still, given the bureau’s limitations, its numbers are “on the lower side,” he said. Other data sets are more comprehensive, but even they can define homelessness too narrowly, Mr. Rosen added. When people are forced to live in close quarters with other people because they can’t afford their own space, “We think they are without a home and should be considered homeless.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- We told you so: Conservatives foresaw polygamy ruling
- Mich. law makes women buy own insurance for abortions
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- Panel seeks 'surveillance' system for gay blood donors
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
Latest Blog Entries
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
- House votes to reject Obama welfare shift
- Report: Two out of three Democrats support gay marriage
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- PRUDEN: The scam that will not die
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- Robert E. Lee and 'Stonewall' Jackson tributes face Army War College removal
- Wasted: Tom Coburn's 'Wastebook targets 70 days in bed, Facebook
- Embassy Row: India strikes back over diplomat's arrest
- Zadzooks: The Joker sixth scale figure review (Sideshow Collectibles)
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Colorado revolt: 55 of 62 sheriffs refuse to enforce new gun laws
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- U.S. downplays Saudi prince's criticism of Obama's Middle East policies
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow