COVID pushes homeless count to nearly 1,500

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COVID pushes homeless count to nearly 1,500

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 9:57am -- tim

Statewide point-in-time count report released by Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness stated today that 1,110 Vermonters experienced literal homelessness on a one-day count January 22, 2020, although this number suggests that as a state we have been able to stabilize our homeless population, this is no longer the case. As COVID-19 struck, the state of homelessness in Vermont has changed drastically. As of the end of May 2020, there are currently 1,489 persons in state funded General Assistance (GA motels).

Members of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness have collected data and assessed the needs of those in the various areas of the state. These can be located on www.helpingtohousevt.org website, or accessed below.

Point-in-Time Count Findings:

  • During the one-day count on January 22, 2020, 1,089 Vermonters experienced literal homelessness, an increase of 21 persons compared to the 2019 one-day count.
  • A total of 821 households were counted, an increase of 49 households from 2019.
  • The number of unsheltered persons counted 114, staying nearly the same from 2019
  • 216 persons were children under 18, representing 19% of the entire homeless population counted; as compared to 2019, 251 children at 23%.
  • 128 people, or 11.5%, reported they were fleeing domestic or sexual violence, this is a slight decrease from 2019 which was 133 persons at 12%.
  • 184 persons self-identify as chronically homeless – persons with a disability who have experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years.
  • Veterans homelessness continues to decline, achieving an all-time low number-71- and continually decreasing.
  • 373 persons reported having a severe mental illness, this continues the tread of a steady increase throughout the years.
  • 238 persons reported having a substance use disorder, continuing a tread of increases since 2018.
  • Although we saw a decrease a disproportionate amount of people identified as Black or African American compared to state demographics; 5.6% or 62 persons (a decrease of 2.4% from 2019) were Black or African American, compared to 1% of the state population.

To understand our current state of homelessness in Vermont, I encourage you to read the following from Josh Davis, Executive Director of Groundworks Collaborative in Brattleboro, VT.

‘Where There’s a Will…’

“COVID is teaching us many lessons-lessons that stretch beyond the direct impacts of what effective and well informed leadership looks like in times of crisis. One of these lessons is that we do have the ability to house everyone in our community.” … “What has been lacking is the will and commitment to bring sufficient resources to bear to move from a position of mitigating homelessness to functionally ending it.”

The 2020 Point-in-Time Statewide Report released on June 5, 2020 by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness comes from data collected for the Annual Point-in-Time Count, an unduplicated count of persons experiencing literal homelessness on the Night of January 22, 2020. Each count throughout the state is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally with the support from the two federally-recognized Continua of Care (CoC): Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance.

People who experience homelessness in Vermont face complex challenges, which include and go beyond the unaffordability of housing. The Point-in-Time Count allows local communities and state policy makers to understand the current problems of homelessness, target limited funding to appropriate housing and services, and track progress towards ending and preventing homelessness.

Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness

Mission: The Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness supports the work of local CoCs; connects them to a broader network of stakeholders; administers federal funds; and advocate for funding and policy changes so that people living in Vermont have a safe, stable, affordable home. If homelessness occurs we aim that it is a brief and rare occurrence, during which everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Source: MONTPELIER, VT – 6.8.2020. Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness. www.helpingtohousevt.org