WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- A Department of Housing and Urban Development report released Thursday said homelessness in the United States decreased 3 percent since 2015 despite an increase in several cities, including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Seattle and Dallas.
In the HUD's point-in-time report conducted yearly on a single night in late January, there were 549,928 people who were homeless in 2016, which continues a downward trend since 2008.
There were more than 39,000 homeless veterans counted in the study, a 17 percent decrease from the prior year. The number of chronically homeless and homeless families also decreased.
Despite a housing crunch in New York City, homelessness decreased there 2.4 percent, Norm Suchar, director of HUD's homeless assistance programs, told NPR.
There were more than 194,000 homeless families, a 6 percent decrease, and about 35,686 homeless unaccompanied youths, also a decrease from 2015 but HUD said it is unclear how accurate those numbers are as counting that category is difficult.
The report did reveal some problems in large cities, though. Homelessness in Washington, D.C., increased 14.4 percent; 6.5 percent in Los Angeles County; and 6 percent in Seattle.
"There's no doubt that the lack of affordable housing is the big driver in our homeless numbers," Suchar told the Los Angeles Times, referring to soaring housing costs in those cities. "What we saw in Los Angeles and Seattle in particular is consistent with the housing crisis we're seeing particularly in higher-cost areas on the West Coast."
The city of Dallas saw a homeless population increase of 21.3 percent. Nationwide, there were 373,571 individuals found in shelters this year, a slight decrease from last year, and 176,357 homeless individuals unsheltered, meaning they were living outside.