Recently, online real estate and rental marketplace Zillow , performed a comparative analysis on its report published in 2017 examining the relationship between rising rents and homeless populations. The analysis found that the report had accurately predicted the recently released 2017 point-in-time (PIT) counts by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  (HUD).
The company said that their analysis showed a median absolute percent error of 8.3 percent against the PIT counts. The analysis’ predictions of the PIT counts in 17 out of 25 metro areas were within the 99 percent predicted interval.
The report  had predicted that the relationship between rising rents and increased homelessness was particularly strong in Los Angeles; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Seattle. In two areas–Los Angeles and Sacramento–the rapidly rising rents meant that the figures compiled by the HUD came in higher than Zillow’s prediction.
According to Zillow’s report, nearly 2,000 more people would fall into homelessness if the rent in Los Angeles climbed an average of 5 percent. The local count in January 2017 indicated that 57,794 people in the Los Angeles metro area experienced homelessness, an almost 11,000-person increase from 2016. The increase was greater than expected, given that rents rose about 4 percent from 2016 to 2017.
In Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Houston, Miami, and Tampa the local counts were lower than the report’s predictions. The lower counts, Zillow has said, were because some areas have disrupted the link between rising rents and homelessness. Houston, for example, had one of the higher homeless counts in the country five years ago. Now it’s dropping fast, so that a 6 percent decrease in rent over the past year translated into 426 fewer people experiencing homelessness in Houston.
The latest results will be incorporated into the dynamic Bayesian hierarchical model that Zillow uses for time-varying homeless count data and will be reflected in their predictions for 2018.