Unsheltered Homelessness in Maryland: Impact and Spatial Change during the Foreclosure Crisis

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This research primarily looks at trends in unsheltered homelessness and foreclosures in Maryland between 2005 and 2011 in order to determine what kind of impact the foreclosure crisis has had on homelessness. To complement these quantitative data, qualitative information was gathered through interviews and local Continuum of Care plans. The results of this investigation do not support any direct causal relationship between new foreclosures and homelessness; however, it is possible that foreclosures have pushed higher-income renters into the rental market. Through the combined impacts of the build-up of the housing bubble and the injection of these new higher-income renters, rental costs have continued their upward trend. In this way, it is possible that foreclosures have indirectly led to an increase in homelessness by pushing rental costs upward even after the housing bubble had burst.

However, this research also highlighted many shortcomings associated with the homeless point-in-time count methodology that make it difficult to identify causal relationships such as this with any high level of certainty. Several recommendations are provided at the conclusion of this research in order to help alleviate homelessness, improve the available data, and conduct additional research to further our collective knowledge on the nature of homelessness and its causes.