In Brief

Evictions drove homelessness up, prompting expanded rental assistance

By: - November 14, 2023 7:00 am

Homelessness rose in 2022, but New Jersey officials say expanded homelessness prevention programs in 2023 helped curb the spike. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Homelessness surged last year in New Jersey, fueled in part by rising evictions, a new state report found.

Almost 11,300 people were unsheltered at least one day last year, up 20% from the previous year, while another 16,566 people spent time in a homeless shelter in 2022, up 17% from 2021, according to the state Office of Homelessness Prevention’s annual report, which was released Monday.

The report showed higher numbers of homelessness than what an August report found, largely because it drew data from more sources. Both cited eviction, rising rents, and a scarcity of affordable housing as key drivers of increased homelessness.

(Chart courtesy of N.J. Department of Community Affairs)

People being asked to leave a shared residence was the leading cause of homelessness last year, representing nearly a quarter of cases.

Eviction was the next most common cause, likely because evictions climbed 5% from 2021 to 2022, worsening housing instability, the report found.

A 2023 update

It wasn’t all bad news.

Michael Callahan, director of the state Office of Homelessness Prevention, issued a “2023 homelessness update” on Monday to show progress the state has made in reducing homelessness this year.

The state diverted more than 90,000 households from entering homelessness by distributing $1.3 billion in emergency rental assistance, Callahan wrote. Expanding social supports drove down the number of people living on the street, while the number of people living in shelters or receiving emergency hotel vouchers rose.

“Overall total homelessness is down slightly (1.37%) versus last year, thanks to aligned prevention and diversion efforts and increased resources for downstream permanent housing resources,” Callahan wrote.

(Chart courtesy of N.J. Department of Community Affairs)


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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.