Study reveals 24% drop in Puerto Rico’s homeless population
Puerto Rico’s homeless population dropped by nearly 24% in 2022 to about 1,026 people, when compared to the 1,345 counted in 2019, according to the results of a survey revealed by nonprofit organization Continuo de Cuidado (CoC) PR-502.
Of those people without a roof over their heads, 7.1% said to be wandering in clusters or families.
The “2022 Homeless Count Results Report,” presented jointly by CoC and the Puerto Rico Family Department, was carried out in Mar. 3-4, 2022 by some 500 volunteers who canvassed 24 towns included in CoC’s footprint.
The towns that ranked in the top five positions where a greater number of homeless people were identified were: San Juan, where a prevalence of 51.7% was identified, followed by Arecibo with 9.6%, Vega Baja with 8.9%, Bayamón with 5.8% and High Vega with 3.5%.
Regarding the demographics of the homeless population, the analysis commissioned to research firm Estudios Técnicos shows that 88% of the people are over 25 years old, with the average age of sheltered and non-sheltered people being 43 years old and the average age being 44 years old.
The study also shows that 75% of this population are men, 24.5% are women and 0.6% are transgender or gender non-binary.
Meanwhile, 95% of identified homeless people are Hispanic or Latino, 43% are White, 26.7% are Black or African American, and 29.8% are multiracial. When comparing this data with the percentages of the total population, it reflects a greater disparity between Black/African American and multiracial people in contrast to the total population, the study concluded.
The study also showed the main reasons why the counted people are homeless. The top six reasons are: drug or alcohol use, 53.4%; family problems, 25.7%; financial or economic problems, 19.8%; unemployment, 17.9%; mental health problems, 16.4% and situation of gender violence, 10.4%.
The count also confirmed that 50.4% of those surveyed were facing homelessness for the first time and 46.8% of them are not sheltered.
It was also possible to identify that 76.5% of the respondents presented a situation of vulnerability, the main reasons being the consumption of drugs or alcohol, some mental or emotional health condition or that they have some physical condition or impediment.
“This count has shown us that the total number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people has decreased, in statistical terms,” said Liz Mónica Lamboy, executive director of CoC.
“The differences by race, compared to the general population, have increased, as have the people who present a situation of vulnerability. However, the study identified that people with chronic homelessness problems have decreased,” she said.
The homeless count is carried out as part of the funding application requirements from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) CoC Program. Puerto Rico has two recognized CoC’s — 502 and 503.
“[HUD] establishes that each jurisdiction must carry out a count of homeless people at least every two years and an annual inventory of beds,” CoC chairwoman Lisdel Flores said.
“Its purpose is to obtain unduplicated data on the number of homeless people, their characteristics and needs; and provide information for the planning of services to the state, municipalities, and community entities,” she said.