A new outlook on homelessness in America: HUD releases updated numbers for 2016

New statistics show some improvement in helping our homeless population.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – New statistics show some improvement in helping our homeless population.

As we approach the coldest nights of the year, remember, about half a million people in this country are without the comfort, and shelter, a home provides. There is reason to be hopeful: In a new study just released from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, the number of homeless Americans dropped 14 percent since 2010, and 23 percent among families in that same time.

Two-thirds of those who were homeless did have a shelter. The government gathers this data through a point in time survey. On the same night across the country, people go out and count the homeless population on the streets, and ask questions of those in shelters.

“They give you a pretty good feeling of what kind of homelessness you can see. In 2015, they measured 3,782 people homeless in the area,” Joe Manna of the Springfield Rescue Mission, told 22News.

According to HUD, Massachusetts had one of the lowest rates in the country of “unsheltered” homeless people this year. Some parts of the state, like the Springfield area, have it worse off than others.

“There’s a very high poverty rate in the city of Springfield. 30 percent by most estimates of the total population, so you’re going to have people who are close to homelessness, who fall into homelessness,” said Bill Miller, Executive Director of Friends of the Homeless.

HUD warns, while the number of people living on the streets has declined, they’re not necessarily moving into permanent single family homes. Many people are moving in together, or are still struggling to pay their rent.