What does this measure?
The prevalence of homelessness, expressed as a measure of homeless persons per 10,000 residents.
Why is this important?
The prevalence of homelessness can be an indicator of a community's ability to provide stable jobs that pay a living wage, adequate support for the unemployed, affordable housing and accessible health care. Homelessness is related to larger issues such as poverty, employment, mental health, substance abuse, and family violence. The way a community cares for its more vulnerable citizens can also be a marker of collaboration and social support systems.
How is our county doing?
Essex County had a rate of 11 homeless persons per 10,000 residents in 2020, below the state rate of 26 and national rate of 18. Essex's rate was down from a high of 26 in 2015 but is on par with its 2007 rate of 11.
However, it should be noted that the rate for Essex County does not include data from two of its largest localities, Lynn and Lawrence. Lynn's data is collected separately, and homelessness in Lynn has increased from 26 to 103 homeless persons per 10,000 residents since 2007. Data for Lawrence is not available separately, but instead included in the state rate.
How do we compare to similar counties?
Essex County's rate of homelessness was below Westchester, NY (17) and above Lake, IL (4). Both Lake and Westchester experienced a reduction in its rate since 2007.
Notes about the data
It is very difficult to obtain an exact count of homeless persons, due to transience and limited resources for record-keeping. Comparable data presented for available counties are currently limited to point-in-time counts done on one night in January. Data for this indicator are released annually in October.