The number of homeless people decreased by 2 percent since 2014 amid shortage of affordable housing in the United States, federal officials announced. Around 500,000 remain living in the streets.

In a survey released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a total of 564,708 people are sleeping on the streets or in shelters in a count conducted one night in January 2015. The number slightly decreased from 578,424 which was also counted on a single night in January 2014.

Homelessness is one of the predicaments the nation is facing today. In fact, during the survey of the current year, 69 percent of homeless Americans were staying in residential homes allotted for homeless people, but 31 percent were found staying in various unsheltered places.

It does not only affect individuals, but families as well. A total of 206,286 are homeless people with families and children. An estimated 23 percent of all homeless individuals are children under the age of 18 years old.

The actual number of homeless people in the country is likely way higher than the number surveyed (PDF) by HUD. There are many homeless people who are beyond the reach of the survey, like those staying with friends or relatives.

"Because the data is 10 months old, it doesn't even reflect the progress that has been made this year as communities have been putting a very large effort to the end-of-the year goal of ending veteran homelessness," Matthew Doherty, executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, said in a statement.

"That tells us communities are doing a much better job of creating opportunities for veterans to leave our streets and get on a path to permanent housing," he added.

In 2010, a Federal Strategic Plan was implemented to end homelessness in the United States. By 2017, the program plans to end chronic homelessness in many states. Up to date, chronic homelessness declined by 31 percent since 2010, while veteran homelessness decreased by 36 percent in the last five years.

Common problems affecting the whole nation are seen as culprits in homelessness among Americans. The lack of affordable housing and low wages across the U.S. are seen as causes in the large number of people without homes.

Two of the most crowded states in the U.S., New York and California, reported that the number of homeless people has increased by 10 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. However, a total of 33 states reported a decrease in the number of homeless individuals. Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Texas and New Jersey have reported the biggest decline in terms of homelessness.

Photo: Tony Webster | Flickr

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