HUD: Annual count shows fewer homeless people in Indiana

Homeless people living along the Santa Ana Riverbed in Orange County. Nov. 10 2017

This year, HUD and local communities launched a more intense effort to more accurately account for this important, hard to count population.

Of the latest count, 193,000 people had no access to nightly shelter and instead they were staying in vehicles, tents, the streets and other places defined as uninhabitable. Our count was conducted differently this year: the county brought in a research firm and volunteers were paired with formerly-homeless people to help with the count, so the new numbers aren't directly comparable to past counts. Nationally, the overall homeless number was down by 13 percent since 2010 and the unsheltered number has dropped by 17 percent over that seven-year span, although some changes in methodology and definitions over the years can affect comparisons.

"There are days when I don't want to wake up", said 30-year-old Ashley, who found herself homeless in July after being evicted and losing her job. "Illinois' shelter system was decimated by two years without state funding".

The most alarming effect of the West Coast homeless explosion is a deadly hepatitis A outbreak that has affected Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Diego, the popular tourist destination in a county where more than 5,600 people now live on the streets or in their cars.

"In many high-cost areas of our country, especially along the West Coast, the severe shortage of affordable housing is manifesting itself on our streets", HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. It does not take into account families and individuals who might experience homelessness at other times during the year.

HUD's national estimate is based upon data reported by approximately 3,000 cities and counties across the nation. "This is not a federal problem-it's everybody's problem".

HUD says more than 4,800 of Indiana's homeless residents were found in emergency shelters or transitional housing and almost 570 were living on the streets. "These one-night 'snapshot" counts, as well as full-year counts and data from other sources ( U.S. Housing Survey, Department of Education ), are crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress toward reducing it.

3,305 people were homeless representing an overall 17.3 percent decrease from 2016 and a 73.5 percent decrease since 2010.

Butler said he was in transitional housing - a type of program that prepares people for permanent homes - for a while but mostly has lived on the streets for the past couple of years.

HUD also had the fifth-highest rate of homeless families with children in the country. On a single night in January 2017, 853 Veterans were experiencing homelessness. OR saw a 5 percent increase this year, while in Washington the homeless population rose to 21,112 - an increase of 1 percent over the previous year.

That put to an end six straight years of decline from 2010, when 637,000 Americans were homeless.

Chronic or long-term homelessness among individuals increased 8.4 percent over 2016 levels (or 48 persons).

The annual count found about 300 unaccompanied homeless IN youth and children. This year, HUD and local communities launched a more intense effort to more accurately account for this important, hard to count population. HUD will treat 2017 as a baseline year for purposes of tracking progress toward reducing youth homelessness.

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