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Homelessness in the United States has continued to remain a focus area of concern of social service providers, government officials, and policy professionals since its resurgence among many types of individuals and families. The number of homeless people further grew in the 1980s, as housing and social service cuts increased and the economy deteriorated. The United States government determined that somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 Americans were then homeless. Over the past decade or so, the availability and quality of data on homelessness has improved considerably, due in part to initiatives by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and several nongovernmental organizations working with homeless populations. Since 2007, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued an Annual Homeless Assessment Report, which reports to Congress the number of individuals and families who are homeless in the previous year, both sheltered and unsheltered, in order to standardize data and collection processes for government officials and service providers. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 643,067 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons nationwide as of January 2009. Additionally, about 1.56 million people used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program during the 12-month period between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. This number suggests that roughly 1 in every 200 persons in the US used the shelter system at some point in that period. According to the United States Conference of Mayors, in 2008 the three most commonly cited causes of homelessness for persons in families were lack of affordable housing, cited by 72 percent of cities, poverty (52 percent), and unemployment (44 percent), and top ideas to stop homelessness were more housing for persons with disabilities (72%), more or better paying employment opportunities (68%), and more mainstream assisted housing (64%). (via DBpedia)