There is a homelessness epidemic underfoot in America, reinforced by our current economic climate. And as the debt ceiling and sequester continue to loom, services and programs for homeless people are on the chopping block.
To better understand who is affected and why, homeless advocacy organizations and shelters across the country are asking volunteers to participate in homeless counts to get a picture of the homeless population in their cities. It’s a challenging task that leaves many individuals uncounted — and while these statistics help us understand the magnitude of the homelessness crisis, they can only get us so far.
Mark Horvath, aka @hardlynormal, has helped put a face to these statistics through his website http://www.invisiblepeople.tv
, which uses social media and web video to tell the stories of homeless men and women. Having once been homeless himself, Mark knows what it’s like to be out on the streets, too often treated like a statistic.
What can #CityCount tell us about homelessness?
Mark’s work is built on the idea that homelessness is a local issue that we can help solve in our own backyards, working with our neighbors face to face. And understanding the state of homelessness in your city, through projects like the #CityCount
, is critical to making change. Here’s a breakdown of the latest #CityCount
numbers, from January 2012, to see exactly what’s at stake where you live:
In one day, nearly 10 percent of all chronically homeless people (9.8 percent) were counted in Los Angeles, CA, by far the largest chronically homeless population in the country. Nearly 10,000 people were identified as chronically homeless. On one night, 42,000 people in Los Angeles were experiencing homelessness, 8,500 of whom were veterans.
Chicago ranks 10th among majors cities in terms of its population of chronically homeless individuals, with at least 1,112 individuals with disabling conditions who spend long periods of time homeless — and are often repeatedly homeless.
The number of homeless families in D.C. increased 73 percent from 2008 to 2012. In January, there were 1,014 homeless families in D.C., representing 4 percent of the overall homeless population.
The Homeless Census found that 1,506 people were homeless in St. Louis in January, and more than 500 of them were people in families.
Volunteers counted more than 12,500 people who were experiencing homelessness in Michigan, which meant for every 10,000 people in the state, 12 were homeless.
The Philly #CityCount found 5,780 people were homeless in Philadelphia. Of this population, 500 were unsheltered and 590 were chronically homeless, which means they spent extended periods of time, for many, years, living on the streets.
On one night in January, Albuquerque volunteers counted 1,431 homeless people.
Mark Horvath is part of a growing movement to put the invisible issue of homelessness on the front burner across the country. We’re excited to be working together on the @home campaign
, which is seeking to grow the movement to end homelessness city by city.
We hope it’s the start of many conversations with your friends, family, and co-workers about taking action to end homelessness where you live.