National homeless report doesn’t reflect Mahoning Valley

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As local shelters and food pantries in the Valley are seeing a record number of clients, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Thursday released the latest national estimate of homelessness.

Overall, there was an 11 percent decline in the number of people experiencing homelessness since 2010, including a 26 percent drop in the number of people living on the street.

In Ohio, 11,182 people were reported to experience homelessness, an 11 percent decline since 2010.

Those numbers just don’t sit well with Jim Enchement with the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley. He said his facility is “bursting at the seams”, and those numbers don’t reflect what is going on locally.

“The reality here is we have doubled in the number of overnight census in the last four years. We used to average 65 homeless a night, now we are averaging 141,” Enchement said. “At this time of year it is a disservice to say things are better. They are not, not by a long shot.”

According to HUD, Veteran homelessness nationwide declined 36 percent between 2010 and 2015; family homelessness dropped 19 percent, and chronic homelessness fell 22 percent. Meanwhile in Ohio, Veteran homelessness declined 7.5 percent between 2010 and 2015; family homelessness declined 30.5 percent, and chronic homelessness fell 48.2 percent.

HUD’s annual report shows that certain communities are making significant progress, while others are struggling in light of the widespread housing affordability crisis, budget shortfalls, or slow adoption of best practices.

The results are based on HUD’s ‘point-in-time’ estimates, which seeks to measure the scope of homelessness on a single night in January each year. The point-in-time count only captures those persons sleeping in sheltered and unsheltered locations on the night of the count.

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