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.