Law Center Statement on 12% Increase in Homelessness  

Point in Time results must drive housing investments, not despair 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (December 18, 2023) Last week, The US Department of Housing and Urban Development released the Annual Point in Time (PIT) Homeless count, showing a 70,650 person, or 12% increase in homelessness. Unfortunately, the PIT confirms what we have been saying for years: that the rent is too high for a growing number of Americans and that far too many people are just one missed paycheck or health crisis away from becoming homeless. It does not have to be this way. Homelessness is the result of policy and budget choices that impact everything from how many houses are built to minimum wages too low to cover rent. The Law Center remains resolute in knowing that everybody needs and deserves a safe and stable place to call home. We are driven by the truth that we can solve homelessness and that, when we do, everybody is better off. 

Context matters  

We are not surprised by these results. As poverty increases, COVID-era funding and eviction protections sunset, and wages are still too low, it makes sense that homelessness has gone up. Housing is simply out of reach for far too many of us.  

PIT Results must drive action  

Ten years ago, rates of homelessness started to decline and kept going down until 2017. We must invest in solutions that have proven to work – and that are currently working for veteran homelessness (which is down by 55% since 2010). This PIT count is an opportunity for elected officials to invest in our communities and treat homelessness as a priority, not a political football. We call on Congress and the Biden administration to use the PIT results, like the actual census, to drive action and funding. As local, state, and federal officials point fingers at each other, more of our neighbors are sleeping outside, in their cars, or in crowded shelters. We need more housing, not more blame.  

Criminalization makes things worse 

The marked increase in homelessness is accompanied by a well-funded and coordinated effort to roll back strides to address homelessness. Proven solutions like the housing and services approach to solving homelessness are under attack. Led by out-of-town billionaires, states across the country are passing laws to gut housing first and make it easier to arrest or ticket people for living outside. Fortunately, most people know that fining people for being poor makes them even poorer and does nothing to solve homelessness. We cannot arrest or ticket our way out of homelessness. Criminalization is traumatic and takes away needed resources that can and should be used to make sure everyone has the safety and dignity of a home.  

Homelessness is caused by systems, like racism 

The PIT again shows that centuries of intentional policy choices have caused people of color, particularly Black, Latinx, indigenous people, and Asian Americans, to experience homelessness at disproportionate rates. These disparities must compel those in power to address homelessness through a lens of racial justice. Doing so requires addressing homelessness from the root level and understanding that homelessness is caused not by individual mistakes, but by collective problems, which require collective solutions.  

 Housing works, we need more of it  

Our non-profit partners across the country are working hard to connect their clients with housing. Every day, thousands of people leave shelters and tents and unlock the door to a home, where they can be safe and healthy.  However, due to decades of disinvestment in housing and other human needs, more people are becoming homeless each day, leading to the increase seen in the Point in Time results. Ending homelessness requires every community to create housing that all kinds of people can afford – from seniors on fixed incomes, to our essential workers, to families and young people.  

As Law Center Executive Director Antonia Fasanelli says, “More people are homeless because housing is simply too expensive. Politicians must resist the false bill of goods being sold by venture fund billionaires that further their arrest and police heavy response to homelessness and stay focused on the proven solution: housing.” Our work must be driven by the foundational question, ‘what do we need to do so that, next year, the PIT shows that nobody in America is homeless.’ 

 We know how to solve homelessness. Now is the time for all of us to come together and focus on real solutions, like housing plus services, so that we can ensure that all our neighbors have the housing they need to thrive. Click here to join our movement to solve homelessness and stop its criminalization. 


The National Homelessness Law Center’s vision is to cultivate a society where every person can live with dignity and enjoy their basic human rights, including the right to affordable, quality, and safe housing, and its mission is to fearlessly advance federal, state and local policies to prevent and end homelessness while fiercely defending the rights of all unhoused persons.

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