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Homeless count doesn't address problem, advocate says

More affordable housing needed
Posted at 1:16 AM, Jan 23, 2018

CINCINNATI - Federal funds are riding on it, but Tuesday's efforts to count the homeless across the country don't address the problem, says a local homeless advocate.

Every year the Department of Housing and Urban Development asks organizations like the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition to conduct the "point-in-time count" because funding dollars that come into the community are based on that number.  

Counting those who don't have a permanent place to live is not an exact science. You get a good count from shelters, but counting who's on the street is a different matter.  

"The Department of Housing and Urban Development wishes to use these numbers to track worsening or improvement," said Josh Spring, executive director for the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.

But the point-in time count is flawed, Spring said.

"HUD does not include people who are bouncing from place to place to place, couch to couch, couch to bridge to car. Those folks don't necessarily get counted," Spring said.

What this brings to light is a lack of affordable housing, according to Spring. He said Hamilton County needs 40,000 more units of affordable housing.

 "There are about 55,000 households trying to fit into 16,000 affordable homes. The math on that can never work," he said.

"The truth is that when we are so short on affordable housing as we are now, unless we change that, the problem just doesn't change."

Spring says that at a minimum the count can give a snapshot as to how many are homeless around the country. He hopes it will also bring attention to the problem.