How Many People Experience Homelessness?
Attempts by the federal government to estimate the number of people who are homeless have only taken place on a regular basis for a little more than a decade. Prior to that, there had been several national estimates of homelessness but nothing both comprehensive and recurring. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for collecting and reporting data about the scale of homelessness. Congress initiated HUD's data collection efforts with a funding set-aside in the department's FY1999 appropriations bill, to be used to collect homelessness data. (See P.L. 105-276, which references House Appropriations Committee Report H. Rept. 105-610). HUD implemented data collection through local Continuums of Care (CoCs), the cities, counties, or combinations of both that are the recipients of HUD's Homeless Assistance Grants. CoCs are expected to collect data and report to HUD. Since the mid-2000s, CoCs have regularly submitted data to HUD, which, in turn, releases information as part of Annual Homeless Assessment Reports (AHARs). HUD has released an AHAR each year from 2005 through 2017. (AHARs are available on HUD's website at https://www.hudexchange.info/hdx/guides/ahar/)