The prevalence of homelessness, expressed as a measure of homeless persons per 10,000 residents.
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.
Essex County had a rate of 17 homeless persons per 10,000 residents in 2017, lower than the state rate of 26 and equal to the national rate. Essex's rate was down from a recent high of 26 in 2015 but still up from 11 in 2007. Since 2007, the statewide rate increased less, from 23 to 36 and the national rate has steadily decreased, falling from 22 to 17.
Essex County has the second-highest rate of homeless residents among the comparison counties, below Westchester, NY (19) and higher than Middlesex, MA (8), and Lake, IL (3). Lake experienced a reduction in rate since 2007 while Westchester stayed the same, and Middlesex and Essex County each had increases.
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.