A 16% increase in homelessness in California accounted for most of the 3% national increase, putting more heat on the state’s lagging effort to curb the surge, according to a new federal report.
The Housing and Urban Development Department late Tuesday released its homelessness report and counted 568,000 people without homes. Significantly, it found that homelessness among veterans, youths, and families is down. For veterans, it’s down 40% over the last 10 years.
The department, which bases the numbers on a one-night national count of homeless people, said that if California hadn’t seen such an explosion in homelessness, the national number would not have increased.
Essentially, said a senior HUD official, California’s increase “offset” the national trend downward.
In the report, the second “key finding” singled out California. It said: “While homelessness in most states declined between 2018 and 2019, homelessness in California increased by 16 percent, or 21,306 people. The large increase in California is reflected in a nationwide increase of 3 percent, or 14,885 people experiencing homelessness, between 2018 and 2019.”
HUD Secretary Ben Carson also didn’t mince words in his memo included in the 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. He wrote, “This year’s report shows that there was a small increase in the one-night estimates of people experiencing homelessness across the nation between 2018 and 2019 (3%), which reflects a 16 percent increase in California, and offsets a marked decrease across many other states.”
He added in a statement, “California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency. Addressing these challenges will require a broader, community-wide response that engages every level of government to compassionately house our most vulnerable fellow citizens.”
The administration has been critical of California’s handling of the crisis, which is notable for tent cities in downtown areas. California has blamed President Trump for the crisis, but HUD recently push back claiming that the state is sitting on $450 million in federal aid and doing nothing to slash regulations that have driven up the price of a single low-income unit to $750,000.