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Majority of homeless find shelter by “doubling-up”

May 14, 2013

On one night late last January more than 60% of some 400 Midland County individuals identified as homeless found shelter by doubling-up with family or friends. The number was reported by local agencies in the annual “Point-in-Time” (PIT) count.

The remaining 40% either took refuge in emergency shelters, “couch-surfed” — stayed in one place seven days or less, survived in places not fit for human habitation, or were in process of being evicted.

Amanda Johnson, housing resource specialist for Midland Area Homes, and the person responsible for compiling and reporting the data from local agencies serving the homeless, commented on the numbers, “The total number is not much different from 2012, but the demographics have changed.”

The number who have been homeless more than one year has risen. “Last year there were 94. This year it’s 111,” Johnson said. The count of those in emergency shelters such as Shelterhouse, Open Door, and House of Mercy had also increased at the time of PIT, from 50 to 67.

The number of children affected by homelessness remains at about 30% of the total.

Loss of job or money is the biggest factor contributing to homelessness, trailed by substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, and commission of a felony.

The Point in Time count, which the Michigan State Housing Development Agency (MSHDA) requires local communities to carry out each year, provides useful data to the Continuum of Care and the local service agencies which reach out to the homeless. “PIT gives us a snapshot of the numbers and the situations of the homeless in Midland County and helps determine what services and programs are needed,” Johnson said.

Midland County Continuum of Care is a united effort of more than 20 private and public agencies working to prevent homelessness by providing housing-related services to those who are homeless or living in substandard housing.

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