Letters to the Editor: Ending homelessness will take decades, not years
Posted on December 28, 2013 at 11:27 am
In the past year, we have seen the most rapid growth of shelter space in the county, with an additional 1,800 units of shelter. This is due to the rapid growth of the homeless population here and increased demand for services for the homeless. We have witnessed a significant increase in the number of homeless in a relatively short amount of time. This growth rate exceeds the expected growth rate of the homeless population by two to four years.
To better understand the cause of this rapid growth, the following trends are important:
(1) The number of homeless in the past three years has increased by 1,800 units. These numbers continue to grow.
(2) A significant percentage of the homeless population is now housed.
(3) The number of homeless sleeping outside on the streets or in shelters has increased significantly in the past year.
(4) Approximately 90 percent of the homeless are living in households where there is a documented history of violence.
The following trend in homeless services is also of concern:
The number of homeless individuals participating in services and waiting for a provider has increased approximately 10 percent.
In the past year, the number of homeless receiving services in our emergency room has decreased by approximately 8 percent.
The number of homeless receiving services through our crisis line has decreased by approximately 20 percent.
The number of homeless receiving services through our family support programs has increased by approximately 20 percent.
The number of homeless receiving services through our crisis line has increased by approximately 12 percent.
In the past year, the number of homeless receiving services through our drop-in center has increased by 3 percent.
Homeless services are a long-term solution that will take decades to put in place. This solution will ultimately have to be in place before the number of homeless in the county and around the country will decrease.
While we are seeing a decrease in our emergency room usage, the number of people waiting to see a doctor has increased by approximately 20 percent. We need to increase