Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) told the Interagency Council on Homelessness on Tuesday that homelessness in the country declined 2.1 percent between 2010 and 2011.  The estimate is based on the annual "point in time" survey conducted on a single night each January in 3000 cities and communities.  Donovan himself participated in the 2011 count.

The survey found 636,017 homeless people compared to 649,917 in January 2010 and 671,888 in January 2007.  The number of homeless veterans fell nearly 12 percent, a reduction of 8,834 homeless over the preceding year.  HUD and the Veterans Administration have pioneered several joint programs aimed at homeless vets since 2009.

The number of homeless individuals declined by 13,900 or 2 percent and 5.6 percent since 2007 and the number of homeless families declined 2.8 and 8 percent during the same two periods.  The unsheltered homeless population has dropped by 13 percent or 36,800 persons since 2007 while the number of persons experiencing chronic homelessness was down 2.4 percent or 2,664 from January 2010 and 13.5 percent (16,635) since 2007.  This steep reduction in chronic homelessness was attributed by HUD to an increase in the supply of permanent supportive housing units which have increased by more than 30,000 beds since 2010 and by 83,000 beds since 2007.

 Five states accounted for half of the nation's total homeless population: California (21.4 percent); New York (10 percent); Florida (8.9 percent); Texas (5.8 percent); and Georgia (3.3 percent).

Donovan said of the numbers, "It's remarkable that in the wake of the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression, we're witnessing an across-the-board drop in homelessness.  This tells us that the Obama Administration's homelessness strategy is working and the results spur us to continue working to end homelessness in America once and for all." 

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, a member of the Council said, "Reducing homelessness among Veterans by 12 percent since January 2010 is a clear sign of progress, but our work is not complete until no Veteran has to sleep on the street"