Doubled in past two years

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Volunteer Wally Richardson, at left, straightens donated items while a man looks at clothing during the one-day homeless count in January.In the past two years, the one-day homeless count held every January, has more than doubled for Jefferson County.

This year, the Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition conducted the Jan. 24 count, now called the Point In Time Count, and found that there were 544 people experiencing homelessness in the county, compared with a total of 370 from 2012, and 271 from 2011.

Ana Young, housing advocate for NeighborImpact, who has been involved with the count for the past six years, was a little surprised by the number.

"We initially believed the numbers would be down, based on the few surveys we counted that day, but it was too early to determine without counting all the surveys from all the partner agencies in Jefferson County," she explained. NeighborImpact is one of the partners in the homeless count.

By comparison, Deschutes County had a count of 1,519, and Crook County, 135.

Individuals and families counted included people living in weekly motels, shelters, transitional housing, "doubled up" with other families, camping or sleeping in cars, or other places not designed for long-term human habitation.

Of Jefferson County's total, about half were counted in Warm Springs. "Warm Springs did a great job identifying the homeless population in the Warm Springs community," said Young. "They had a count of roughly 250. From what I heard, they were busy all day long."

In the tri-county area, a total of 914 youths age 17 and younger were experiencing homelessness, including 193 in Jefferson County, 672 in Deschutes County, and 49 in Crook County.

Jefferson County had 31 who are 55 or older, while Deschutes County had 112, and Crook County, 13.

Veterans experiencing homelessness included 22 in Jefferson County, 68 in Deschutes, and 14 in Crook.

For the disabled population, there were 156 homeless in Jefferson County, 293 in Deschutes, and 34 in Crook.

A total of 65 survivors of domestic violence were homeless in Jefferson County, compared with 217 in Deschutes, and 24 in Crook County.

The data will help local agencies develop comprehensive plans to address poverty and homelessness in Central Oregon.

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