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Survey Finds Decline in Yakima County’s Homeless Numbers

nbcrightnow.com

The annual Point in Time Survey has found 785 homeless people in Yakima County, 47 of whom are living unsheltered. The survey, conducted by the Yakima County Homeless Coalition, is an annual census conducted to determine the number of individuals and families who are  homeless and the factors that caused their homelessness.

The good news? Tim Sullivan, senior manager for Housing and Homeless Programs with the Homeless Network, says the numbers are going down.

“The 785 people is 12.6 percent lower than last year,” he said. “That is the second straight year we’ve had a decrease. Over the nine years that we’ve had counts, we’ve had a 37.9 percent decrease in homelessness. So we are having some impact on the issue of homelessness in the community.”

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the Homeless Network of Yakima County. The network was established in 2004 by a group of concerned organizations and individuals who developed a 10-year plan to reduce homelessness in Yakima County by 50 percent. The data obtained through the Point in Time count enables the network to track progress toward reaching its goal.

The total count is then broken into two primary categories: sheltered and unsheltered.  Sheltered refers to those who spent the previous night in a temporary or transitional shelter or are temporarily staying with friends or relatives (couch surfing).  Unsheltered refers to those who are living on the street or in their car. This year only 47 people were found to be living unsheltered in Yakima County, which was the same number of people as last year.

On average about 654 individuals are sheltered by various agencies in Yakima County; 83 percent of the total homeless counted. Over the past several years the number of beds available for shelter has risen, which has helped to lower the number of unsheltered individuals in the county.

Additional information regarding homelessness in Yakima County, along with the complete data report on this year’s survey, can be found on the network’s website at www.yakimahomeless.org

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