Homelessness among families jumped 9 percent in 2008, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported.
Homelessness for families grew primarily in rural and suburban areas of the country, the agency said.
Members of homeless families now make up nearly a third of all homeless people in the country, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told reporters during a July 9 telephone conference.
In releasing the agency’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report, Donovan said statistics showed that 1.4 million people were homeless for at least one night in 2008.
On one night in January 2008, when HUD conducts its annual census of homeless people, the report showed that 664,000 people were without shelter or a bed.
The highest concentrations of homeless people were found in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Oregon.
Half of all homeless people were in four states — California, Florida, Michigan and New York. Twenty percent of all homeless people were in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York City.
The full report will be posted at some point on the HUD Web site at www.hud.gov.
Donovan told reporters in a telephone conference call that the number of people who are homeless held steady between 2007 and 2008, but that data was collected before the full impact of the housing crisis hit last year.
The secretary also announced that $1.5 billion was being released through the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program to local communities to offer assistance to families and individuals who are facing homelessness or are already homeless.
The money is part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package passed by Congress in February.
CNS will provide additional coverage of the issue of homelessness in the coming weeks.