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'Point in Time' count: Census shows homelessness in DC is down for the 6th year in a row

Homeless numbers are down 47% since the implementation of the Homeward DC program in 2016.

WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other community leaders announced the results of the annual census of individuals experiencing homelessness in the District on Thursday.

The Point in Time count took place on Jan. 26. It shows that for the sixth consecutive year, the number of people experiencing homelessness has declined.

Over the past year, the overall number of people experiencing homelessness has dropped 13.7%. Since 2016, when the Bowser administration began its Homeward DC plan, homelessness has declined by 47%, data show. For the 2016 Point in Time count, 8,350 people were experiencing homelessness. In 2022, that number was 4,410. That's the lowest recorded number going back to at least 2005, the mayor's office said.

The 2022 results also show declines in family homelessness (down 14%), homelessness among single adults (down 12%), and chronic homelessness for families (down 26%) and single adults (down 22%).

“These results are a culmination of years of working together – across government, with our community partners and providers, and with residents in all eight wards – to implement Homeward DC and build systems and resources that meet the needs of D.C. residents,” Bowser said in a statement. “While we are proud of these results, we know there’s more work to do. We know that the pandemic has changed the way people experience homelessness, including more people living in encampments, and we need to be responsive to those changes. With the FY23 budget, we have the funding in place to end chronic homelessness, and in addition to the funding, we have the political will and the community support to make it happen. And we will.”

The budget includes $114 million to replace aging homeless shelters and $31 million to end chronic homelessness through funding systems necessary to end homelessness. 

“We firmly believe that homelessness is a solvable problem,” Bowser said in a Thursday news conference. 

Department of Human Services Director Laura Green Zeilinger agrees. She said to remember that behind every number there is a person.

“While I am proud of the work we do to connect District residents to affordable housing, I am especially proud of the system by which we welcome people home – it’s a system consistent with our District values in that it is centered in human dignity. Our residents are deserving of a safe and stable place to call home and we are dedicated to making that vision a reality," Zeilinger said.

The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) conducted the Point in Time count on behalf of the District. The count is a requirement for all jurisdictions receiving federal homeless assistance funding. This single-day enumeration of the homeless services continuum of care provides an opportunity to identify gaps in the current portfolio of services and informs future program planning.

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