Understanding Homelessness in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Nation-wide Trends:

  • Throughout the United States there is a severe shortage of housing affordable to low-income earners. “Today, 8 million extremely low-income households pay at least half of their income toward housing, putting them at risk of housing instability and homelessness.”[1]
  • Minimum wage is not enough for earners to afford housing at fair market value almost everywhere in America.[2]
  • The financial strain of a serious health problem and/or lack of adequate healthcare can lead to homelessness, while homelessness can lead to or exacerbate health conditions, leading to chronic homelessness.[3] This is especially true of low-income or uninsured people.
  • Bridge of Hope National has compiled a Snapshot of Family Homelessness in the United States, which presents an overview of family homelessness and its relevance for at-risk single parent families.


Local trends:

  • According to the 2019 Housing Needs and Vulnerability Survey Results the top 5 self-reported reasons respondents said they become homeless were:[4]
    • Inability to pay rent
    • Eviction
    • Dispute with family or friends
    • Unemployment
    • Plans with family or friends fell through
  • According to the 2019 Housing Needs and Vulnerability Survey Results the top 5 self-reported barriers respondents said they faced in obtaining housing were:[5]
    • Inability to find affordable housing
    • Transportation
    • Medical problems
    • Inability to find work
    • Dental problems
  • Race and Housing: “Using demographic data from the last three years, we see that while the percent of Black persons in poverty in the region is 6%, our three-year Point in Time average within the homeless population is 19%. We also noted that Hispanic/Latino groups were less likely to be homeless in contrast to the population.”[6] Click for a TIMELINE OF RACE AND HOUSING HISTORY.
  • According to the United for ALICE National Overview three-year average, 10% of households in Rockingham County are living at or below the poverty line, while 25% of households in the county are ALICE households.[7]

Common Terminology

[1] https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/what-causes-homelessness/housing/

[2] https://reports.nlihc.org/oor

[3] https://nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/homelessness-and-health.pdf

[4] https://continuumofcare513.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2019-Harrisonburg-Housing-Needs-and-Vulnerability-Survey.pdf?38cbd4&38cbd4

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://continuumofcare513.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Racial-Disparity-2019-Analysis.pdf?38cbd4&38cbd4

[7] https://www.unitedforalice.org/national-overview