A new post from HUD PD&R details how federal interventions to stabilize housing during the pandemic prevented a rise in homelessness. The post also notes that since much of the pandemic-related assistance is expiring, the U.S. again faces a rise in homelessness. The authors cite Emergency Rental Assistance, the enhanced Child Tax Credit, the two economic impact payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and the national eviction moratorium as key interventions that prevented a mass wave of evictions and a rise in homelessness.
The Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) shows a 17% decrease in sheltered homelessness between 2019 and 2021. Over the course of 2021, 1.2 million unique individuals (in 940,000 households) were sheltered in the homeless system in 2021, down from 1.5 million in 2019. Of special note, families with children using shelters declined by 25%. Among families with children, the number experiencing first-time homelessness declined 23% from 2019. Single adults had a similar reduction.
There was a sharp reduction in evictions during the pandemic. According to Princeton University's Eviction Lab, evictions in 2020 and 2021 were 58% less than pre-pandemic across the communities they track. Despite the increase in households facing worst-case housing needs, this evidence shows that the homelessness crisis can be slowed by preventing evictions through increased federal assistance.