Implementing Approaches to Address Unsheltered Homelessness
After declining steadily for over a decade, homelessness has risen in recent years. Nationally, this trend is driven by an increase in the number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, which has increased each year since 2015 while the number of people in shelters has gone down. This report has two key components. The first component is a descriptive analysis of housing market factors in communities with different trends in their unsheltered homeless counts. Consistent with previous work, the authors found that communities with increasing trends had tighter housing markets. The second component provides case studies of efforts to address unsheltered homelessness in three communities – Richmond, VA; Montgomery County, MD; and San Diego, CA. Data from Richmond showed positive outcomes for an effort to target Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness and those with high levels of vulnerability. Montgomery County demonstrated the value of additional housing resources when paired with a more targeted vulnerability assessment. San Diego launched two emergency shelter options in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: non-congregate shelter in hotels and congregate shelter at the city’s convention center. While formerly unsheltered residents of the convention center had comparable housing stability outcomes measured by rates of returning to homelessness, residents of the hotels did substantially better than those in the convention center, and in the mainstream shelter system overall.