Experts Say Government Undercounts Homeless, Including Vets

Image: Experts Say Government Undercounts Homeless, Including Vets

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 12:22 PM

By Melanie Batley

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The number of chronically homeless people and homeless veterans has dropped significantly in recent years, the government claims, but an expert says the data dramatically underestimates the reality.

The latest survey on homelessness by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates that the number of homeless veterans fell by 24 percent over the past six years, while the figure for chronically homeless individuals has dropped by 25 percent, USA Today reports. The number of homeless families, meanwhile, has also decreased by 8 percent. 

In total, the government estimates there were 610,040 homeless people in the U.S. in January, a 9 percent drop since 2007.

"We've seen that in one of the most difficult economic periods in this country, we've made remarkable progress to reduce homelessness, particularly among veterans and the chronically homeless," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said, according to USA Today.

Experts on the issue, however, say the survey undercounts the number of homeless because it's difficult to track the number of people on the streets at any one time, and other indicators appear to suggest that the number of homeless is actually on the rise.

"I can't say the number of homeless people are going down based on what I hear around the country," Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, told USA Today.

"HUD's numbers paint a misleading picture of what's actually happening," she said.
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