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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Homelessness down 9%, but African Americans still overrepresented in annual count

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Black families represent 82% of families with minor children experiencing homelessness, according to the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP).

“Particularly black female-led households with children, are experiencing homelessness at disproportionate rates. When you look at eviction data and who is most impacted, there are correlations,” Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, CHIPS’s executive director, said in a statement.

The coalition and the Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy at IUPUI’s Public Policy Institute released an annual report on homelessness as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention’s PIT (Point in Time) Count report reveals Black families account for the largest percentage of those experiencing homelessness. (Photo provided by IU Public Policy Institute)

Volunteers worked from Jan. 24-28 and asked people where they stayed on the night of the 24th.

Homelessness continues to disproportionately affect Black people. They accounted for the largest percentage of those experiencing homelessness at almost 56%.

“We know that our community made progress in our collective rehousing efforts in 2021 … but we also know there is still significant work to do to address the ongoing racial disparities and to address the increase in family homelessness,” Haring-Cozzi said.

The count showed a 15.7% increase in family homelessness with children under the age of 18.

The coalition divides homelessness into three categories: sheltered, unsheltered or other (for example, staying with family or friends).

The number of unsheltered and sheltered individuals decreased by 9%. There were 202 unsheltered and 1,559 sheltered. The number of sheltered individuals is much higher because of emergency shelters and transitional housing.

Haring-Cozzi said the data can only give a snapshot of the problem rather than a definitive answer as to why it exists. But she believes federal COVID-19 relief and getting more people into permanent housing from shelters set up during the pandemic contributed to the progress.

For the first time in six years, there has been a decrease in the number of individuals experiencing homelessness at age 62 and older. The report also found veteran homelessness has decreased by 35%.

“Part of the strategy is to ensure that those who are being impacted and those with lived experience are at the table, informing decisions, and driving solutions,” Haring-Cozzi said.

Contact intern Mesgana Waiss at 317-762-7848 or email at adjwouw@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @theavgjourn.

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