Homelessness has skyrocketed by nearly 30 percent in Maryland, outpacing the District, Virginia and the nation, a new report says. The District saw a 3 percent rise and Virginia nearly 5 percent from 2008 to 2009, the most recent years for which data were available.

The report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness found that the number of homeless across the country climbed by 3 percent.

The report did not examine why homelessness rose more in some states than others, but researchers found two basic causes, alliance President Nan Roman told

The Washington Examiner. "One is how well the state does with preventing homelessness, and the other involves economic drivers," Roman said. "You can't tell from the report why Maryland is so high, but the economic drivers are on par with the national average."

A spokeswoman from the Maryland Department of Human Resources did not return calls for comment on Maryland's 27 percent jump.

Kathy Baker, the executive director of the Annapolis-based homeless services organization Light House, suggested there may be a higher percentage of federal employees in Virginia and D.C., "preventing the high number of layoffs and job displacements that have been seen elsewhere."

Overall number of homeless
2008 2009
Maryland 9,219 11,698
D.C. 6,044 6,228
Virginia 8,469 8,852
Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness

The most telling data from the report, however, might be found in the percentage change in each jurisdiction of the number of chronically homeless, defined by the report as people with disabilities who are repeatedly homeless over a long period of time. In Maryland, the number of people in that group jumped 38 percent. In Virginia it dropped by 3.4 percent. But the District saw the biggest decline: 12 percent.

"It's a testament to the two-year-old strategy to put the chronically homeless in permanent residences," said D.C. Department of Human Services Director Clarence Carter.

Since 2008, the city has put more than 1,200 chronically homeless households into permanent homes using a mix of federal and city dollars. The goal is to use the home as a foundation "to help them fix everything else that was wrong with their lives," Carter said.

The District wasn't able to prevent the effects of the battered economy from putting more people on the street, though.

"At this point, there is no light at the end of the tunnel," Carter said.