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Study finds 744,000 homeless people in U.S.

Associated Press
Published January 11, 2007


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WASHINGTON - There were 744,000 homeless people in the United States in 2005, according to the first national estimate in a decade.

A little more than half were living in shelters, and nearly a quarter were chronically homeless, according to the report Wednesday by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an advocacy group. A majority of the homeless were single adults, but about 41 percent were in families, the report said.

The group compiled data collected by the Department of Housing and Urban Development from service providers throughout the country. It is the first national study on the number of homeless people since 1996. That study came up with a wide range for America's homeless population: between 444,000 and 842,000.

Counting people without permanent addresses, especially those living on the street, is an inexact process. But the new study is expected to provide a baseline to help measure progress on the issue.

"Having this data brings all of us another step closer to understanding the scope and nature of homelessness in America, and establishing this baseline is an extremely challenging task," HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson said. "Understanding homelessness is a necessary step to addressing it successfully."

HUD is preparing to release its own report on homelessness in the coming weeks, Jackson said. In the future, the department plans to issue annual reports on the number of homeless people in the United States.

California was the state with the most homeless people in 2005, about 170,000, followed by New York, Florida, Texas and Georgia, according to the report.

Nevada had the highest share of its population homeless, about 0.68 percent. It was followed by Rhode Island, Colorado, California and Hawaii.

A lack of affordable housing is the leading cause of homelessness nationally, said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. "If we don't do something to address the crisis in affordable housing, we are not going to solve homelessness," Roman said.

She said many of the chronically homeless have mental health and substance abuse problems. Others, she said, simply cannot afford housing.

Largest homeless populations

California: 170,270

New York: 61,094

Florida: 60,867

Texas: 43,630

Georgia: 27,161

Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness

[Last modified January 11, 2007, 01:22:25]


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