D.C. released its annual count of people experiencing homelessness in the District, and the number of people counted is lower than it’s been since 2005. But the number of tent encampments is up.
Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke about what’s working and the work left to be done.
The District, like many jurisdictions across the nation, has been spending millions of dollars every year trying to reduce the number people experiencing homelessness.
According to the latest numbers released by the Bowser administration, it appears to be paying off, especially when it comes to families experiencing homelessness.
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“We counted 17 [families] in our point-in-time count who are experiencing chronic homelessness in January. I’m thrilled to say that nine of them are in housing now and the other eight are working on their housing, which means we have effectively created an end to chronic homelessness among families in the District of Columbia,” Director of the Department of Human Services Laura Zeilinger said to applause.
Overall homelessness dropped by almost 14% compared to last year. Overall homelessness is down 47% since 2005.
Two categories saw an increase: the number of homeless veterans and the number of unaccompanied youth under 18.
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There were 205 homeless veterans counted in 2022, compared to 184 in 2021. This year, 351 homeless youth were counted, compared to 325 the previous year.
While the number of people without a place to live has gone down, the number of tent encampments has gone up. District officials said they know of 102 encampments in the city now.
Bowser pointed to the pandemic as part of the reason.
“Even though homelessness is down, the pandemic has changed the way people experience homelessness, and many more people [are] living in encampments today than before the pandemic,” the mayor said.
Some of the tent encampments are on federal land, including a large encampment outside Union Station. The National Park Service said they plan to remove that encampment and a second encampment at 11th and I streets in Northwest. The Park Service is working with the human services department to provide housing before people are cleared out.