- Discovering Homelessness
- Volume 13 Number 1
Guest Editor's Introduction
Sandra Susan Brunson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. government at large.
This issue of Cityscape focuses on homelessness, a complex social issue that affects many people in America. According to The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, on a single night in January 2009, there were an estimated 643,067 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people nationwide (HUD, 2010). Numerous research studies have indicated that the vast majority of people who use shelter do so for only a short period of time and quickly exit the homeless assistance system; therefore, exponentially more people experience homelessness over the course of a full year. In 2009, nearly 1.56 million people used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program for at least one night. When combined with the total number of unsheltered homeless people (who are not captured in the aforementioned 1.56 million figure), experts estimate that up to 1 percent of the U.S. population will experience at least one night of homelessness in a given year. This number increases dramatically, up to roughly 10 percent, when considering the prevalence of homelessness among just the population of Americans living in poverty. Although circumstances vary, homelessness affects each one of us, regardless of economic status, racial background, or cultural identity.