Housing the Homeless

October 10, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 36
Can new government policies end homelessness?
By Peter Katel


A homeless man seeks help (Getty Images/George Rose)
A homeless man seeks help in downtown Chicago. The Obama administration aims to end homelessness among veterans and individuals by the end of 2015 and among families by 2020. (Getty Images/George Rose)

Although homelessness has fallen almost continuously since 2007, about 1.5 million Americans use a shelter in a given year — and advocates for the homeless say that figure badly understates the problem. Unemployment, cuts in funding for mental health care and the psychological effects of war on veterans all have helped fuel the homeless crisis. The Obama administration vows to end homelessness among veterans and individuals by the end of 2015 and to eliminate it among families by 2020. But experts are divided on whether “rapid rehousing” programs that provide short-term rental aid will keep individuals and families from becoming homeless again. Meanwhile, many cities are trying to banish the homeless from their downtowns by enacting anti-vagrancy laws — an approach opposed by those who say living on the street should not be treated as a crime.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Poverty and Homelessness
Jan. 11, 2019  Domestic Poverty
Aug. 04, 2017  Poverty and Homelessness
Jul. 17, 2015  Fighting Urban Poverty
Oct. 10, 2014  Housing the Homeless
Oct. 28, 2011  Child Poverty
Sep. 07, 2007  Domestic Poverty Updated
Jun. 18, 2004  Ending Homelessness
Dec. 22, 2000  Hunger in America
Apr. 07, 2000  Child Poverty
Jan. 26, 1996  Helping the Homeless
Aug. 07, 1992  The Homeless
Mar. 30, 1990  Why Homeless Need More Than Shelter
Sep. 30, 1983  Hunger in America
Oct. 29, 1982  The Homeless: Growing National Problem
Jan. 25, 1967  Status of War on Poverty
Feb. 05, 1964  Persistence of Poverty
Jun. 06, 1956  Pockets of Poverty
Fair Housing and Housing for Special Groups
Low Income and Public Housing
Mental Health
Unemployment and Employment Programs