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Report shows US homelessness rising even before pandemic

Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary Marcia Fudge called the findings "startling."
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2016 file photo, a man stands outside his tent on Division Street in San Francisco. San Francisco voters will decide in November 2018 whether to tax large businesses to pay for homeless and housing services in a city struggling with income inequality. Supporters collected enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Homelessness in America was on the rise even before the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically dragged down the economy, according to a new report from the Housing and Urban Development Department. 

The Point in Time Count, as it's called, provides a snapshot of the number of homeless people, both sheltered and unsheltered, in America on a single night. The one-night counts are conducted during the last 10 days of January each year. 

This year's report showed that 580,466 people experienced homelessness in the United States on a single night in January 2020. That's an increase of 12,751 people, or 2.2 percent, from 2019.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing record-high unemployment and placing millions on the verge of eviction just months after the rise was recorded, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge called the findings "startling."

"What makes these findings even more devastating is that they are based on data from before COVID-19, and we know the pandemic only made the homelessness crisis worse," Fudge said in a video that accompanied the report.

More than half of people experiencing homelessness also came from just the four states that were hardest hit by the pandemic - California, which had 161,548 people experiencing homelessness, New york, 91,271 people, Texas, 27,229, and Florida, with 27,487 people.

However, despite contributing a large number of homeless people to the national average, Florida's rate of homelessness was less than the national average. In fact, Florida had the largest decrease in homelessness since 2007. 

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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