HOMELESSNESS in the U.S. reaches RECORD HIGH amid worsening economic downturn post-pandemic

 The homelessness crisis in America has hit a record high this year, amid high housing costs and increased home evictions following the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to data reviewed by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) from over 300 organizations, the U.S. has recorded over 577,000 homeless people for 2023. This number reflects an 11 percent increase from last year's. The total number of homeless people was computed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) based on the provided data.

"This year's surge reflects a host of pressures around the U.S. such as rising housing costs, lack of affordable rental units and the nation’s continuing opioid crisis," the WSJ wrote.

The pandemic-era buffer from relief funds and eviction moratoriums has disappeared as COVID-19 wanes, according to some advocates for the homeless. Donald Whitehead Jr., the executive director at the National Coalition for the Homeless, emphasized the crucial role that COVID-relief funds played in keeping homelessness at bay. He said: "The COVID-relief funds provided a buffer. We're seeing what happens when those resources aren't available."

"We are beginning to feel the full economic fallout of the COVID-19 era," noted Jamie Rife, executive director of the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. The Mile High City reported a 32 percent increase in homelessness, the highest increase among major U.S. cities based on the HUD's data.

This crisis isn't limited to specific regions. In June, around 43 percent of the homeless population in 2022 signaled an upward trajectory. Based on data compiled by Princeton University's Eviction Lab, more cities reported higher numbers of eviction filings through the end of June compared to pre-pandemic levels.

America's homelessness also driven by other factors

Aside from the end of pandemic-era programs that protect homeowners, America's homelessness is also being driven by other factors. These include rising housing costs, lack of affordable rental units and the country's never-ending economic crisis in America.  

Brandon Oates, executive director of Shepherd's Table, cited price inflation as one factor fueling homelessness in South Carolina's Horry County. His organization provides food assistance to the county's residents.

"A lot of people come to us to kind of supplement their income. They're barely getting by, paying rent, utilities, and other essentials," he stressed. "With the escalating cost of goods and services, the homeless population is growing."

Coastal Carolina University professors Stephanie Southworth and Sara Brallier have delved deep into the homelessness crisis through their new book titled "Homelessness in the 21st Century." The two interviewed approximately 200 homeless individuals in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with a view to highlight a series of factors contributing to the problem.

"The rising cost of housing, coupled with escalating expenses like insurance and taxes, is causing more people to experience homelessness. The American Dream, once attainable, is slipping further out of reach," Southworth explained.

Their research underscored how the lack of affordable housing intertwines with a broader web of challenges such as insufficient access to healthcare, a dearth of living wage jobs and inadequate public transportation.

They also touched on the issue of criminalization of homelessness – revealing how minor infractions, like sleeping in public spaces, are being used to keep homeless individuals out of sight. This criminal record can then further inhibit their chances of gaining employment, perpetuating the cycle of homelessness.

HOMELESSNESS in the U.S. reaches RECORD HIGH amid worsening economic downturn post-pandemic HOMELESSNESS in the U.S. reaches RECORD HIGH amid worsening economic downturn post-pandemic Reviewed by Your Destination on August 22, 2023 Rating: 5

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