Homeless Numbers Down in WV, Federal Data Shows

The following appeared in The Journal on November 24, 2015.

Officials: W. Va. homeless numbers down
By Jenni Vincent (jvincent@journal-news.net), Journal News

MARTINSBURG – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had good news for West Virginia when it released the latest national estimate of homelessness, federal data that also showed a continuing decline nationally among homeless individuals.

HUD’s 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found an overall 11 percent drop in the number of persons experiencing homelessness since 2010, including a 26 percent drop in the number of people living on the streets, according to a press release.

In West Virginia, local communities reported a total of 1,835 people experienced homelessness which represented a 18.9 percent decline since 2010 – “when President Barack Obama launched “Opening Doors,” the nation’s first-ever comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness,” the release states.

Additionally, veteran homelessness from January 2014 to 2015 fell by 8.4 percent in West Virginia, while family homelessness decreased 25.4 percent and chronic homelessness dropped 17 percent.

These results are based on HUD’s “point-in-time” estimates which are aimed at “measuring the scope of homelessness on a single night in January each year,” the release states.

“Every year in late January, volunteers across the nation conduct a count of their local sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. These one-night ‘snapshot’ counts are then reported to HUD. This data is crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress in reducing it,” according to the release.

“The point-in-time count only captures those persons sleeping in sheltered and unsheltered locations on the night of the count but is not reflective of who is eligible for HUD’s homeless assistance grants programs,” the release reads.

This year, HUD revised its data collection requirements on youth experiencing homelessness, and is also “working with communities to improve collection to better understand the size and scope of homelessness, including efforts like youth engagement and collaboration with schools and other youth-serving systems.”

It is also in the process of improving and updating its year-long data collection on youth, and now also includes data from the U.S. Department of Education and American Housing Survey in its Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the release states.

“The Obama Administration has made an historic commitment to effectively end homelessness in this nation. Together with our partners across the federal government and communities from coast to coast, we have made tremendous progress toward our ambitious goals. But our work is far from finished. We have to continue making smart investments in the strategies that work so that everyone has a roof over their head,” HUD Secretary Castro said in the release.

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