Published On: Wed, Apr 6th, 2011

Number of homeless in Palm Beach County tops 3,000

A total of 3,228 individuals and families in Palm Beach County are homeless, according to a count taken during a recent 24-period by Palm Beach County Human and Veteran Services employees, volunteers and social service agency

The tally says 2,1

48 are literally out on the street, meeting the federal definition of homelessness. It says they stay “in places not meant for habilitation or [are] emergency shelter or transitional housing programs.”

The other 1,080 individuals and families were reported to be “doubled-up.” That term is typically defined as an individual or family living in a housing unit with extended family, friends, and other non-relatives due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason, but seeking permanent housing.

Officials said this is the first year that individuals and families who were doubled-up are being reported to the state. Next year, those who are doubled-up are to be included in the federal homeless definition as well.

During the 24-hour survey, staff went into the community to gather information on homeless populations. The count not only measures the needs of the homeless, but also provides direction for future development of services.

The survey says a total of 369 homeless individuals and families were placed in permanent housing under Homeless Prevention Rapid Re-housing grants between October 2009 and December 2010. Ninety-four percent remained housed when supports were gradually withdrawn.

In addition, new HUD-funded projects have been added annually, targeting homeless individuals, providing access to additional permanent supportive housing beds.

The survey says counting homeless individuals and families in a 24-hour period remains a challenge. “Families often don’t come forward to be counted due to fear of having their children removed; disabled individuals avoid being counted due to concerns about being hospitalized; unsheltered homeless individuals move camps frequently to avoid detection and can be difficult to locate; some veterans refuse to be counted despite reassurance as to the purpose of the data,” the report said.

During the coming months, the county’s homeless Continuum of Care, the Homeless and Housing Alliance, will review the details of this year’s effort and analyze the data further. Goals will be established by the Continuum to address new and existing challenges to meet the needs of homeless residents.

In the end, a detailed analysis will be presented to the Homeless Advisory Board for planning purposes.

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