The majority of homeless families in America are black, HUD study finds

A new Housing and Urban Development report said blacks make up nearly half of the homeless population, despite comprising only 13% of the population.

An estimated 568,000 people experienced homelessness in a single night in the United States in 2019, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report presented to Congress earlier this week.

That's an increase from 553,000 in 2018. Those going through chronic patterns of homelessness rose 9% from 2018 to 2019. A majority, 40%, were black.

Although the total number of homeless families declined by 5% between 2018 and 2019, 52% of homeless families in 2019 were black. Those numbers remain virtually unchanged from 2018.

Whites, who make up 77% of the population, accounted for 48% of homeless people in 2019. Those who identify as Hispanic or Latino make up about 18% of the population, but 22% of homeless people were part of this group, according to the report.

The figures reflect poverty status statistics according to race. Although they are fewer in number than whites and Hispanics, blacks underwent more poverty in the last 12 months than any other minority group.

Rates of homelessness also rose on the West Coast between 2018 and 2019, as they fell elsewhere throughout the country. Homelessness in California increased by 16% in the 2018-2019 year.

Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, called this year’s report “an urgent call to action.”

“We know how to end homelessness. Family homelessness has declined every year since 2012. And veteran homelessness went down eight of the past nine years. Now is not the time to abandon the practices that drove those results. Now is the time to get serious about funding them to scale,” said Roman in a statement.  

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned his constituents on Thursday not to expect the federal government to “send in the calvary” after meeting with HUD Secretary Ben Carson on Friday. Carson is a Republican. 

The meeting was one in a series of months of negotiations between the Secretary and the mayor of the largest city in California, a blue state.  No deal was struck.