Survey says homelessness up by more than 10 percent

Survey says homelessness up by more than 10 percent

URBANA -- The latest survey on homelessness found 549 homeless people in Champaign County, including 163 children.

The Urbana-Champaign Continuum of Care, a group of agencies and governmental units working to end homelessness, surveyed the area's homeless population during a one-week period in late January.

They found 549 homeless persons in 389 households in the county, up from 495 -- an increase of more than 10 percent -- from the last count in January 2009.

Of those surveyed, 79 individuals were classified as chronically homeless for more than a year, or four-plus times in three years, plus having a disabling condition such as mental illness or substance abuse.

The primary reasons individuals gave for their homelessness were the inability to pay bills, a mental or physical disability, substance abuse or domestic violence, according to the survey.

The point-in-time survey is completed at least once every two years so that local homeless providers can measure the effectiveness of existing services and identify new approaches that are needed to address local needs, organizers said.

Because of this year's survey, for example, the regional Veterans Administration liaison will apply for additional Veterans Administration Supportive Housing vouchers to house the 25 veterans identified in the survey.

The survey was conducted at agencies and other locations that serve the homeless, including shelters, soup kitchens, schools and clinics. Since some of the homeless may not have used traditional agency services, the survey included a street count, which identified 12 unsheltered individuals.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates a particular week for the survey, so the actual count may be affected by weather or other factors, officials said.

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ajbuckle wrote on April 18, 2011 at 9:04 pm

It's really sad to see this when our government has spent us into near oblivion. I fear that it will be far worse when the debt crisis comes to a head. My heart goes especially to the children.

serf wrote on April 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm

What do you mean by this?

ajbuckle wrote on April 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

Sorry, I'll try again.

We are in a period of economic turmoil. This causes an increase in stress on families, with marginal families being pushed over the edge. Meanwhile, the government has less ability to help because of this huge debt and deficit. Also, because our "leaders" are seemingly incapable of dealing with the huge mess they have created, it looks like it will get a lot worse. It makes me sad to think about the misery being caused and will be caused by our "leadership" and its ineptitude.

sahuoy wrote on April 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm

There are more homeless than your survey suggest. My landlord has several tenants far behind on rent who would also be homeless if not for his good will, generosity and hope of payment or losses on his taxes. 549 might be 10% of the actual homeless maybe less.