The rate of homelessness in Vermont was 2nd highest in the U.S., according to the 2023 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report released by HUD last week. An estimated 3,295 people, or 51 out of every 10,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Vermont during the point-in-time count in January 2023. New York was the only state to have a higher homelessness rate in 2023. HUD also found that Vermont had the greatest percentage increase in homelessness in the country between 2007 and 2023 (218%) followed by Montana (89%) and New York (65%). Vermont also experienced the largest percentage increase in experiences of family homelessness since the pandemic began, increasing by 213% (794 more people) since 2020.
Vermont ranked at the bottom of the list of states for the percentage of people experiencing homelessness who were unsheltered (compared to staying in emergency shelter, transitional housing or a safe haven program.) Of the Vermonters experiencing homelessness during the 2023 count, 4% were unsheltered. Nationally, 40% of people experiencing homelessness during the count were unsheltered.
VHFA has published over 15 years of data from these annual counts online, showing changes over time, racial demographic breakdowns, and where people are staying. Information is provided at the state and county levels. This is available on the Community Profiles on the Vermont Housing Data website (housingdata.org).
To understand more about the regional variation in homelessness rates, University of Washington researcher Gregg Colburn discovered a clear correlation between housing supply indicators and homelessness among large U.S. cities. These indicators include median rent, rental vacancy rate, and housing supply elasticity. Colburn reviewed his findings at a public panel discussion convened by the Office of the Vermont Treasurer last July and summarized his research nationally in the 2022 book “Homelessness is a Housing Problem.”
In most counties in Vermont, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased between 2022 and 2023, with the greatest rate of increase in Rutland County. The number of children experiencing homelessness increased by 36%, up to 654 children. The increase in child homelessness is part of a multi-year trend, nearly tripling from 2020 to 2023. Meanwhile the number of building permits issued each year in Vermont has stagnated at about 2,300 homes, HUD median rent estimates for Vermont counties continued increasing at an average annual pace of 5%, and statewide rental vacancy rates are below the 5% threshold considered to be a “healthy” vacancy rate.