- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Two-thirds of homeless people seeking shelter in the United States are single adults — primarily male, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Single men made up 47 percent of the shelter population during a three-month period early in 2005, and single females represented 16 percent, said the report designed to evaluate the extent of homelessness nationally.

Dennis Culhane, a contributing author of the first Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, said social and legal problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction, prior imprisonment and mental illness are “creating homelessness” and are contributing to the sex imbalance.

“Ex-offenders run a huge risk of homelessness,” said HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan.

Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Culhane, a professor of social-welfare policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said HUD needs to work with prison systems, mental hospitals and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs to address related homelessness problems.

The new report is HUD’s first comprehensive national appraisal of the scope of homelessness since 1984. It concludes that an estimated 754,000 people are homeless on any given night.

That figure represents the total either on the street or in shelters on a night in January 2005.

Nearly one-quarter of all sheltered homeless people are 17 or under. Children younger than 6, who represent only 8 percent of the U.S. population, account for 11 percent of all homeless people in shelters and nearly 13 percent of all poor people.

Mr. Sullivan said the newly released data cannot effectively be compared with previous data on homelessness, because previous research was “not standardized” and the same homeless people may have been counted repeatedly.

Populations at particular risk for needing emergency shelter in 2005 included minorities, especially blacks; the disabled; veterans; and city dwellers.

Although blacks constitute only about 12 percent of the U.S. population, they represent 45 percent of the nation’s sheltered homeless population.

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