“What you always do before you make a decision is consult. The best public policy is made when you are listening to people who are going to be impacted. Then, once a policy is determined, you call on them to help you sell it.”
— Elizabeth Dole

"We are working tirelessly to continue expanding shelter, housing, and supportive services throughout San Francisco, the openings of these two new sites add hundreds of new beds for people to transition off our streets into shelter, and get them on a path to stable housing instead of camping in our neighborhoods." London Breed, Mayor of the city of San Francisco (July 2022)

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The Urban Epidemic:
Addressing the Rise of Homelessness Across American Cities

Key Speakers

Areej Al-Hamad, Assistant professor at Toronto Metropolitan University. She obtained her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Nursing (2002, 2005) from Jordan University of Science & Technology. Al-Hamad has two PhDs.
Joe N. Savage, Jr., Senior Regional Advisor at the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
Cullen Ryan, Executive Director at Community Housing of Maine
Sharon Rapport, Director at California State Policy / Corporation for Supportive Housing
David Hewitt, Director of Housing Stability at Hennepin County

This event was held on Tuesday, December 6th 2022.


According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, there are two trends that are responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20 to 25 years, namely a growing shortage of affordable housing and an increase in poverty. (National Coalition for the Homeless) Knowing that homelessness and poverty are linked, this explains why metropolitan cities across the United States, such as San Francisco, New York City, Detroit or Seattle are seeing a rise in tent cities and higher inequality levels within society. Other factors leading to a wide range of poverty and therefore homelessness include a lack of affordable healthcare, domestic violence situations, mental illness, and addiction disorders. (National Coalition for Homeless) With this in mind, homelessness is not a recent phenomenon in the United States. As Policy Advice depicts, “homelessness is not a novelty in the US. It’s become a source of concern as early as the 19th century as urbanization projects exposed those most vulnerable. However, keeping track of the US homeless rate is only a recent process.” (Policy Advice)

Let’s take a closer look at the statistics surrounding this topic. According to HUD Exchange, approximately 17 people per 10,000 experience homelessness each day. According to the White House, there are around 552,830 homeless people in the US. “With around half a million individuals living in a state of homelessness, things are not looking great.” (Policy Advice) Of the homeless population, around 89.7% of them are 24 years or older. However, over 70% of homeless persons are young adults below the age of 50. (National Law Center on Homeless & Poverty) “As terrifying as it sounds, homelessness is more likely to affect people aged 24-50; hence, the homeless population is comparatively younger than the total US population. This means two things – firstly, with the appropriate support, these individuals could rebuild their lives. Secondly, prolonged exposure to rough living conditions on the street will aggravate health problems and reduce the percentage of seniors among the homeless.” (Smiljanic Stasha – Policy Advice)

San Francisco, one of the cities in America that has a higher homeless population crisis, is expected to hit record-breaking numbers this year. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “San Francisco officials estimate as many as 20,000 people will experience homelessness at some point in the year 2022 – and for every one person housed by a city program, four more will become unhoused.” (SF Chronicle) If we take a further look at the role that race and ethnicity play into the city’s homeless demographics, we can see that “Latinos are now a full 30% of the homeless population, compared with being 16% of the general population… Black people make up 38% of the homeless count compared with being 6% of the general population.” (SF Chronicle) According to Laura Valdez, director of Dolores Street Community Services, “Black and Latinx people are going to be overrepresented in the numbers of homelessness because of poverty, systemic racism, the historic marginalization of our communities, redlining, lack of affordable housing, gentrification.” (SF Chronicle) It’s important to note that the pandemic worsened socioeconomic conditions for many individuals and families, as job loss and lack of affordable housing added to the income inequality gap.

While San Francisco is just one case study of many cities across the United States, the same logistics apply to other urban spaces where homelessness is on the rise. While Congress has recognized that this issue is a bipartisan one that damages the lives of several people in rural, urban and suburban communities, there is still the issue of how to enact policy that will stop homelessness from continuing to rise, and how to help those that are living on the streets of America now. This symposium seeks to analyze the current state of homelessness in the country and assess how the system has failed these individuals, how policy can help them, and what are the factors that have led to this occurrence being so widespread.


  • Analyze the extent of homelessness across American cities and discuss the factors that have led to this phenomenon being so widespread across urban spaces.
  • Assess the demographics of the homeless population using case studies of various cities and urban areas.
  • Explore how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the homelessness rate in the US.
  • Discuss ways and mechanisms that people transitioning out of homelessness can access support and relief.
  • Discuss ways to limit the violence that homeless people face in the streets of cities across America now.
  • Strategize how to shift from reactionary policy to a preventative approach that will help people who are homeless now.
  • Determine how policymakers can work together with the private rental sector to open up housing options.
  • Overcoming funding challenges in this realm.

Who Should Attend?

  • Local Authority Housing Officers and Managers
  • Homelessness Assessment and Prevention Officers
  • Housing Associations
  • Housing Strategy Officers
  • Housing Supply Officers
  • Supported Housing Teams
  • Private Housing Teams
  • Tenants and Residents' Associations
  • Registered Social Landlords
  • Tenancy Relations Officers
  • Private Sector Housing Divisions
  • Housing Benefit Teams
  • Local Immigration Teams
  • Local Migrant Support Groups
  • Asylum Team Managers
  • Planning Enforcement Teams
  • Local Planners and Consultants
  • Representatives of Community Organizations
  • Environment Health Officers
  • Local Complaints Officers
  • Legal Professionals
  • Local Strategic Partnerships
  • Sheltered Housing Scheme Managers
  • Children and Young Peoples Service Managers
  • Social Services
  • Social Exclusion Officers
  • Mental Health Advisors and Practitioners
  • Anti-Poverty Campaigners
  • Health and Safety Teams
  • Neighborhood Renewal Teams
  • Regeneration and Economic Development Officers
  • Sustainable Development Officers
  • Urban Renewal Teams
  • Regional Development Agencies
  • Court Collection Agencies
  • Regulatory Bodies
  • Tribunal Services
  • Trading Standards Teams
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Advice and Support Groups
  • Education Providers
  • Police and Emergency Services
  • Equality and Diversity Practitioners
  • Third Sector Representatives
  • Academics and Researchers
  • Central Government Departments and Agencies
  • Individuals who have Experienced Homelessness
This event was held on Tuesday, December 6th 2022.

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