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HUD report shows rise in homelessness nationwide, drop in Hamilton County

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jan 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-14 18:05:06-05

HAMILTON COUNTY — A newly released report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that homelessness is on the rise nationwide, but numbers have dropped for Hamilton County.

The report shows that homelessness in Hamilton County dropped 2.9% while nation-wide homelessness went up 2.7% from 2018.

However, local advocates said there's a group sometimes hidden in the cracks of the HUD report on homelessness, so they often cultivate and operate from their own study on a local scale.

"The report said that family homelessness went down, and also our local numbers would show that fewer families were served in shelters," said Kevin Finn, president of Strategies to End Homelessness. "But that is a complete myth."

He said the studies conducted can be flawed, because it's inherently difficult to track people struggling with homelessness if they aren't consistently using homeless shelters. He said the numbers reflected in the study don't account for families and others who are turned away from shelters because of a lack of space.

"More than half of the families who try to get into a shelter can't get in because there isn't space available," said Finn. "The count in this report is just of the families who managed to get into shelters. It doesn't make any mention or offer any numbers for how many families tried to get in and were unable to."

The issue of overpopulated family shelters is a growing problem for the Tri-State region. Susan Schiller, the director of Bethany House, said there are many factors that play into this issue, including families doubling up or staying with other family members.

"It's difficult to count all the homeless families," said Schiller. "When you think of someone homeless, you think of the guy on the street corner. You're never going to see a mom and her children on the street corner, because the authorities would come and take the children away."

In Hamilton County, officials try to get a more targeted and accurate report by counting all people struggling with homelessness every day of the year.