PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Homeless Leadership Coalition conducted its annual point-in-time homeless count, in January. The numbers were released Friday and show an increase in the homeless population, across Central Oregon. Coalition board member Vicky Ryan tells KBND News, "We are seeing an increase, kind of across the board, in all three counties." She says, "Our homelessness is up overall, counting all adults and all children, up 12% from last year."
Each year, the Coalition asks the homeless where they slept on one night. This year, that night was January 23. The data is then sent to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Ryan says three years ago the Coalition started taking an extra step. HUD wants to know who's homeless, but the local Coalition also now looks at those couch surfing or living in a motel, as well. Those numbers have not yet been added to the totals, "Our numbers came in this year at 880, and there again, remember this does not count those individuals who are living with other people, who don't have someplace to call their own home. This is just those that are out living sheltered and unsheltered." She adds, "Our unsheltered numbers at 614, which is 70% of the total count, are not even in shelters that night, leaving 266 people, or 30% who were actually sheltered in a variety of different overnight shelters, warming shelters, [and] transitional housing."
The number of homeless veterans also went up 3%, with 62 counted, and, "Children, up to the age of 18, is up 19% from the year before, at 147," says Ryan. She says getting an accurate count is important for future funding to help bring people out of homelessness.
The Homeless Leadership Coalition hosts a meeting Friday morning at the Crook County library when they're presenting the latest numbers and discussing efforts to combat the growing issue across Central Oregon.