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Homelessness in Massachusetts at highest level in five years amid housing crunch

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Federal report shows a particular bump in the number of young people living without permanent shelter

Boston Globe via Getty Images

The number of homeless people in Massachusetts increased 14 percent from 2017 to 2018, to 20,068—its highest level since 2013, according to a recent federal report.

That rise was well ahead of the overall national increase of 0.3 percent, and due largely to a familiar trend in Massachusetts, particularly the Boston area: A shortage of housing. Advocates for the homeless say that even those with proper subsidies have trouble finding shelter in the state.

What’s more, homelessness is hitting younger Massachusettsans particularly hard. The number of homeless between the ages of 18 and 24 without children increased 11 percent annually in 2018, according to the federal numbers. That is the highest since the feds started keeping records in 2015.

Meanwhile, there has been some progress in addressing this trend and the macro trend in the rise in homelessness. Boston proper has won plaudits for addressing youth homelessness specifically.

And there is now a concerted effort in the Boston region to build tens of thousands of new housing units at different price points before 2030.