ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new federal report shows New Mexico experienced the biggest surge in the homeless population last year and we wanted to know why.

HUD’s recent study shows an overall increase of 27% in homelessness across our state for 2019. Many of the people we spoke with say they’re not from New Mexico and they intentionally came to our state.

“There are so many other people that are in the same situation here and seeing that rather than people turning on each other in other states that I’ve seen, it’s more of a family thing when people take care of each other as a group,” says Elliot Emory from Lawton, OK.

(courtesy U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development)

Some people we spoke with also said there are more programs here to help the homeless, and they feel they’ll be more successful here.

(courtesy U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development)

HUD’s study also showed the state’s chronic homelessness numbers went up by 57.6% from last year. These are the people that have been without a home for at least a year and are typically disabled. The city’s Deputy Director for Housing and Homelessness says these numbers are startling to the city.

Lisa Huval says the numbers are taken at a particular night in late January and will be a reflection of the city’s homeless count for that year. Despite what some of the homeless told us, Huval believes a majority of the homeless are from Albuquerque.

“It’s not people coming into our community that are driving these numbers, it’s the fact that people are becoming homeless while they live here and then they’re having trouble getting out of homelessness,” she says.

Some of those people tell us it was drugs, health problems that lead to a loss of their jobs, and poor decisions that thrust them into homelessness. Huval believes the solution to bringing these numbers down is housing.

Huval says the city has been working to increase funding for permanent housing and supportive services. The city has also been working to build a new $30 million shelter.

The report showed in 2019, more than 3,200 were homeless in New Mexico. 2,400 of those were individuals, 777 of them were families with children, and more than 1,200 were chronically homeless. The number of homeless families saw the biggest surge of 29%.

The report also notes Albuquerque’s homeless population rose by 15%. Nationwide, the number of individuals that were experiencing homelessness between 2018 and 2019 increased by three percent or 14,885 people. In total, there are 567,715 people in the United States experiencing homelessness.

Nationally, 61% of people experiencing homelessness were men or boys while 39% were women or girls. Transgender or gender-nonconforming people made up less than one percent of the homeless population.