Baltimore’s Homeless Population Continues to Grow


Despite an historic national decline in the rate of homelessness across the U.S., Baltimore’s homeless population continues to grow.  The most recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reveals that Baltimore’s homelessness population this year is 2725, up 6% from 2014, the last year Baltimore completed the count of homelessness.

Nationwide the rate of homelessness declined by 3% between 2015 and 2016, according to the most recent Annual Homeless Assessment. Homelessness has declined overall by 14% since 2010, the year the Obama Administration launched Opening Doors, the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness, according to HUD.

Baltimore joins much larger cities like New York and Los Angeles, who bucked the trend of decline in the number of homeless persons.

“The change in the Point in Time Count of Homelessness has to do with our methodology.  We had a more thorough count this year,” Vidia Dhanraj told the AFRO, director of homeless services for Baltimore.

“We’re certainly not as big as New York or Los Angeles, but we’re a metropolitan city that has the same issues. The unemployment rate is fairly high in Baltimore City, the increased cost of housing makes it hard to get an apartment, and in the Baltimore metropolitan area, it’s harder to get resources,” said Mary C. Slicher, executive director of Project Plase (People Lacking Ample Shelter and Employment), an organization that served more than 1100 homeless Baltimoreans this year.

Baltimore’s unemployment rate is 5.8, the highest in the state of Maryland, according to data from the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation. Although overall unemployment has decreased in the city, the impact of unemployment is greater for low-wage workers, the poor and homeless, said Slicher.

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