The pandemic could drive homelessness up as much as 45%, an economist projects

Touro University Nevada medical student Nikie Tong, left, looks on as fellow student Claire Chen, right, takes a man's temperature as he arrives at a temporary homeless shelter on March 28 in Las Vegas.

(CNN)If the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive unemployment levels as high as predicted, homelessness will increase 40% to 45% by the end of the year, according to an analysis by a Columbia University economics professor.

That would mean 250,000 more people in the US would experience homelessness compared with last year, bringing the total number of those experiencing homelessness to above 800,000.
"This is unprecedented," Brendan O'Flaherty, who conducted the analysis, said in a statement. "No one living has seen an increase of 10% of unemployment in a month."
With much of the US economy shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the unemployment rate soared to 14.7% in April -- its highest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the monthly rate in 1948.
The projections of homelessness in O'Flaherty's report, published by the nonprofit Community Solutions, are based on a model that indicated increases in homelessness follow increases in unemployment. Using data from 2007 to 2009, the model found that for every 1% increase in the unemployment rate, homelessness per 10,000 people increased by 0.65.
O'Flaherty based the number of people experiencing homelessness on the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress and looked at projections that estimated that the unemployment rate could reach 16% between July and September.
"If the projections of unemployment bei