The US homeless population increased by 1% to 554,000 people this year, shows the latest government data. The growth on an annual basis is the first since 2010, according to the Ministry of Urban Development. An official report on the subject is yet to be published. The increase is due to a jump in the number of unemployed people in the West Coast cities, which some officials, activists and homeless people explain with the boom in the technology industry and entertainment.
Of that total, 193,000 people had no access to nightly shelter and instead were staying in vehicles, tents, the streets and other places considered uninhabitable. The unsheltered figure is up by more than 9 percent compared to two years ago.
There was an increase of 4.1% in New York. In the west, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Sacramento and Oakland all reported surges of varying sizes. Most of the increase across the country is driven by people living in doorways, tents and RVs as opposed to in shelters. People of color are dramatically overrepresented: African Americans make up over one-third of the number.
The rentals in Los Angeles, Seattle and other cities are jumping far beyond the possibilities of a number of low-paid people, and that’s enough to send those Americans to the street.
“There is practically zero unemployment in the city, and there are thousands of homeless people who work but just can not afford a home”, says Seattle Municipal Councilor, Mike O’Brien.