(WKBN) – At a time when Ohio’s overall homeless numbers climbed last year, figures in northeast Ohio are down.
According to new data released by the 2019 Annual Homelessness Report to Congress, there were 10,345 homeless in the state, representing a 0.9% increase from 2018 and a 17.7% decrease since 2010.
One of the biggest percentage changes was in Mahoning County. Last year’s figure totaled 180 homeless, a drop of almost 18%.
Other regional numbers:
- Akron/Barberton/Summit County – 587 (down 7%)
- Canton/Massillon/Alliance/Stark County – 278 (down 1.8%)
- Cincinnati/Hamilton County – 1,114 (down 2.9%)
- Cleveland/Cuyahoga County – 1,808 (down 10.5%)
- Columbus/Franklin County – 1,807 (up 5.5%)
- Dayton/Kettering/Montgomery County – 680 (up 0.1%)
- Toledo/Lucas County – 662 (down 7.7%)
- Remainder of state – 3,133 (up 11%)
Some are seeing it as a possible sign of improvement, others wonder if additional reasons are behind a drop in homelessness in the area.
“That means people are safely moving into housing and they’re able to maintain and kinda get the services and help that they need,” said Colleen Kosta, Mahoning County Continuum of Care.
Along with helping the homeless find permanent housing services, the local Continuum of Care handles the annual canvassing of the homeless in the area. It’s done each January and the numbers are reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Kosta said the number of people staying outside has consistently been in single digits for the last several years.
“A lot of these people that are homeless are actually moving into housing. So, while maybe our housing numbers fluctuate, these people most likely get housed,” Kosta said.
Executives with the Rescue Mission said although numbers of families with children staying there have not changed much, they have seen a decrease in single men falling from the 90s each night five years ago, to the 40s on average now, while some were able to grow out of homelessness.
But, there could also be a darker side.
“We have folks that we have served over the years that we have caught word that they have OD’d and died,” said John Muckridge, III, Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.
This year’s canvassing of the homeless will take place later this month.
Leaders with the Continuum of Care will work to have those numbers in time for the 2020 Census to ensure they are counted, too.
Nationally, homelessness numbers have increased. The Homelessness Report to Congress shows that there were 567,715 homeless on that one night in January, an increase of 14,885 since 2018.
Meanwhile, homelessness among veterans and families continues to fall, declining 2.1% and 4.8%, respectively, in 2019.
“The Trump Administration is committed to working with local communities to find effective ways to end homelessness,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “HUD will continue these efforts to help end the suffering of our most vulnerable neighbors in the most compassionate way possible.”
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported declines in homelessness between 2018 and 2019, while 21 states reported increases in the number of persons experiencing homelessness.
Homelessness in California increased by 21,306 people, or 16.4%, which is more than the total national increase of every other state combined.
“As we look across our nation, we see great progress, but we’re also seeing a continued increase in street homelessness along our West Coast where the cost of housing is extremely high,” Carson said. “In fact, homelessness in California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency. Addressing these challenges will require a broader, community-wide response that engages every level of government to compassionately house our most vulnerable fellow citizens.”
Subcategories of homelessness include veterans, families and chronic homelessness among those with disabilities:
- Homelessness among veterans is half of what was reported in 2010. Last year alone, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness declined by 2.1%.
- In January 2019, there were 53,692 family households with children experiencing homelessness, a decline of 5% between 2018 and 2019, and 32% between 2007 and 2019.
- Long-term or chronic homelessness among individuals with disabilities grew 8.5% since 2018 while falling 9.4% below the levels reported in 2010.