Number of homeless families in Tarrant County increase 27% as rents, evictions rise
One in every four unsheltered Tarrant County residents is part of a family with children, according to the most recent data on homelessness in the county.
New data presented to the public Wednesday affirmed that Tarrant County’s housing crisis continues to affect one community particularly hard: Families with children.
The number of homeless families has increased 27% this year compared to 2020, said Lauren King, the executive director of the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition. King addressed the community Wednesday at the State of the Homeless Address, the first such speech since 2019.
The combined effects of the end of pandemic-era housing protections, like rental assistance and eviction moratoriums, combined with inflation and an increase in evictions have left more Tarrant County residents homeless, King said.
“This was the increase we expected during COVID, that did not happen because of rental assistance,” King said. “We thought we were going to see a huge wave of homelessness come. That did not happen.”
Instead, that wave is coming now, as benefits that were created in the first two years of the pandemic are expiring or out of money.
King released the results of the point-in-time count, the annual accounting of the number of people living without housing on a single night. The point-in-time count is used in cities throughout the nation as an imperfect but regular measure of how many people don’t have a place to call home. At this year’s count, which occurred in January, outreach workers and volunteers tallied more than 2,700 individuals who did not have permanent shelter, an increase of 30% compared to 2020, the last year there was a complete point-in-time count in Tarrant and Parker counties.
“I will admit to you the 2,700 number is higher than I thought it would be,” King said, adding that she expected the number to return to the pre-pandemic number of 2,100 people.
The number of people living on the streets is now consistently more than local shelters have capacity for.
“At this point, we really don’t have any shelter beds available,” King said.
King and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker warned of the startling increase in homeless families last fall, and since then the city has announced two new projects to increase permanently affordable housing in Fort Worth. Tarrant County and Arlington have also committed $32.5 million and $4 million to fund more affordable housing projects.