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Report shows homelessness on decline, some skeptical of results

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Apr 16 2013 08:48:53 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 16 2013 08:49:37 PM CDT

latest report shows homelessness in the state is down but some are saying otherwise.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

While the latest numbers are showing how homelessness in Idaho is decreasing, some are still left in disbelief.

The latest Point-In-Time report shows homelessness in the state is down by 9.5 percent since 2012, totaling 1,781 homeless in the state.

However, some are saying the federal requirements for compiling these results can be misleading for some local development organizations and say the numbers are just not adding up.

“It is literally impossible to find all of those people that are living in homeless conditions,” Aid for Friends executive director B.J. Stensland said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires Aid for Friends and other housing service organizations in the nation to submit an annual report looking at each region's homeless population.

However, the catch is that these organizations must submit a report based on HUD's standards, and many of them are saying these numbers can be misleading.

“As a shelter, we had one of the lowest counts throughout the year,” Stensland said. “There were four nights that we had 15 people at the shelter and that was one of the nights.”

Stensland said HUD requires that all data be taken from one single night each year, January 30, and compares that data set to what was collected the same day the previous year. She said the numbers will certainly look lower since it was taken during a night they had merely half of their normal shelter attendance.

She also said the second reason why this report shows a dip in the homeless population, is due to HUD not accounting for the nearly 50 homes that fall under the Rapid Re-Housing Project it funded back in 2012. But this year, Aid for Friends is just one of the many organizations who are crossing their fingers while waiting to see if HUD will give them the same grant money they need.

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association agrees with Stensland.

“It does have inherent difficulties so that would not surprise me at all to learn that overall, there are more homeless needs than reflected in the one-night count,” Idaho Housing and Finance Association executive vice president Julie Williams said.

Here is a copy of the report: http://www.idahohousing.com/Portals/0/Media/grant%20programs/2013%20State%20of%20Idaho%20Point-in-Time%20Count%20Report%20041613.pdf

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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