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    Quantifying Doubled-Up Homelessness: Presenting a New Measure Using U.S. Census Microdata

    Housing Policy Debate

    Year: 2022

    Some definitions of homelessness include doubling up—living with others because of economic hardship or housing loss. Doubling up can have negative consequences that should be addressed, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s methods for enumerating homelessness exclude these arrangements, and Department of Education counts of doubling up include only school children. We provide a new method for measuring doubled-up homelessness in the total population using American Community Survey public use microdata. Using this method, we find that 3.7 million people in the U.S. population were doubled up in 2019 and show significant differences in doubling up by geography, race and ethnicity, marital status, educational attainment, school enrollment, and employment status, and compare these findings with research on sheltered and unsheltered homelessness. Notably, rates of Hispanic/Latinx doubled-up homelessness were high, in contrast to their rates of literal homelessness, and some rural areas with low rates of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness had high rates of doubling up. To aid in future research and policy, supplemental materials provide open-source tools for replicating the measure. Findings suggest that policies addressing homelessness and housing insecurity consider those experiencing doubled-up homelessness and that the current measure can assist in those efforts.

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