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Homelessness Jumps in Sarasota, Manatee Counties

Homelessness in Manatee and Sarasota counties jumped up nearly 9 percent from a similar count done two years ago.

That's the gist of a report released by The Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness. The group released its s final Community Report summarizing the "2014 Point-in-Time Homeless Census" done on January 27 in both counties. 

Here's their news release:

The region overall showed an 8.7% increase in the number of homeless counted, which is significant, but much slower than the previous report that showed a 40% increase between 2011 and 2013.  There were 2232 individuals counted in the two-county area, with 2165 sharing their housing status as follows: Emergency shelter                                                   532    24.57% Place not meant for habitation (car, tent, street)     517    23.88% Transitional Housing                                               255    11.78% Doubled-up (living with family or friends)             720    33.26% Jail, detention                                                           105    4.85% Treatment facility                                                       23    1.06% Other                                                                           13    .60% TOTAL                                                                    2165    100.00% It is important to remember that this survey gives us more than a count of people who are homeless.  The results tell a complex story of who is homeless and how they became homeless.  Financial problems related to affordable housing, wages and lack of employment continue to be a primary cause of homelessness.  Mental health, substance abuse issues, family problems are also cited.  410 clients admit being a victim of domestic violence, with 65% being female and 35% being male.  Even with the resources being poured into veterans services, we saw an increase in the number of homeless veterans.  And, of course, there are still too many families with children who are homeless and living doubled-up with other families.  Those defined as "chronically homeless", being homeless four or more times in the past 3 years, continue to account for 33% of the total number.    Across the nation, advocates and service providers are reviewing their survey results and adjusting their strategies.  Likewise, the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness will work with its partners in Manatee and Sarasota County to interpret this report and adjust services accordingly.  The data in this report supports the need for a spectrum of housing solutions - emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent affordable housing.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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