Homelessness in Arizona down 36 percent

PHOENIX - A volunteer-based survey conducted in January shows that homelessness on Phoenix streets is down 36 percent, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments.

The point-in-time homeless street count found that there were a total of 1,749 homeless people in the region, a 36 percent decrease from 2010. According to MAG, this year marks the second decrease in the number of people on the streets.

Numbers in these counts exclusively report homeless people on the streets. Those in shelters, with family or friends, and not seen that day are not accounted for, according to the MAG news release.

This year's numbers were calculated through a survey rather than observation. Surveys are reportedly more accurate, but they make it difficult to compare with results from years past.

According to the MAG news release, another study conducted by the Department of Economic Security accounted for 4,304 people who were in emergency and transitional shelters on the night of the homeless street count. This count saw a reported decrease of four percent. Federal numbers also included veterans for the first time this year in the count and found that about 14 percent of all people on the streets were veterans.

Some programs in Arizona are contributing to these lower numbers. According to the MAG news release, the Tempe Permanent Supportive Housing pilot project is housing 35 chronically homeless people. In addition, Human Services Campus has partnered with Arizona Behavioral Health Corporation to provide housing for 47 chronically homeless people, and Project H3 has housed 29 homeless and medically vulnerable people.

On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released national counts that showed no change in homelessness from 2009. This reportedly suggests Social services responsible for reducing homelessnes have had a positive effect, according to the MAG news release.

The point-in-time homeless street count is coordinated through MAG as part of a national effort to identify those suffering from homelessness. According to the news release, it is part of the application process for attaining homeless assistance funding through HUD.


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