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New Report Shows Broward Has Among Nation's Biggest Homeless Populations

Caitie Switalski
The homeless encampment in front of the Broward County Main Library was cleared out at the end of 2018. Case managers were assigned to help the people who were living there find permanent housing.

Fort Lauderdale and Broward County were named in the top 'largely suburban' communities in the country last year for the number of people experiencing homelessness, the chronically homless, and homeless veterans. 

That's according to the newly released report from the U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development. 

The 2019 Annual Homelessness Assessment "demonstrates continued progress towards ending homelessness, but also a need to recalibrate policy to make future efforts more effective and aligned with the unique needs of different communities," HUD Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, stated at the beginning of the report. 

Fort Lauderdale and Broward were grouped together as one region in the report.

In 2019 the area ranked as the 'largely suburban' community with the fifth-highest rate of individuals experiencing homelessness. There were an estimated 2,340 individuals experiencing homelessness, according to the report.

Other ways to qualify categories in the report included rates of homelessness broken down by 'major city,' 'largely rural,' and 'other largely urban.'

Fort Lauderdale/Broward also had the third-largest chronically homeless population for its category last year - an estimated 856 people who continue to experience a pattern of homelessness. 

The last category of people experiencing homelessness that Fort Lauderdale/ Broward County struggled with last year, was homeless veterans. With just under 220 counted veterans experiencing homelessness, the region had the fifth largest population for its category, according to the report. 

In late 2018 business leaders in Fort Lauderdale worked to form the Broward Business Council On Homelessness

At the time of publication, Broward County government had not responded to WLRN's request for comment. The county will be doing its annual Point In Time homeless count on Jan. 29 and 30. You can learn more about volunteering here

Read More: As Broward Population Ages, County Has Major Housing And Transportation Shortages

Also in South Florida, the West Palm Beach/ Palm Beach County area was found to have nealry 70 percent of its homeless veterans, living unsheltered. That ranks fifth-highest for unsheltered homeless veterans in the country for 'largely suburban' communities. 

On a single night last year, an estimated 568,000 people were experiencing homelessness across the country, whether on the streets or staying in shelters. At the national level homelessness rose by more than 3 percent. The state of California now has more than half of all unsheltered homeless people in the country. 

Homelessness in Florida however, decreased statewide from 2018 to 2019 by about 2,700 people. That's the largest statewide decrease.

HUD has released the report every year since 2007. 

You can read the full report, below. 

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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