HUD data shows Virginia homelessness down

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — New data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows the number of people experiencing homelessness in Virginia has fallen.

The data shows a three-percent drop in homelessness overall in the state, with greater reductions in the number of homeless families and veterans.

But the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness is up more than 15 percent since 2016.

Fortunately, that is not the case for the chronically homeless in Charlottesville, according to Jayson Whitehead, executive director of the nonprofit PACEM, which coordinates winter homeless shelters.

“We have seen a significant reduction in that amount of nearly 40 percent from this time last season,” he said.

The number of chronically homeless has dropped from 34 in 2016 to 19 this year, but the number of people PACEM serves each night, around 50, is holding steady.

“PACEM largely serves folks that are experiencing episodic and periodic homelessness,” Whitehead said. “So we see really consistent numbers for the last eight seasons.”

A functional end to homelessness is the goal, said Anthony Haro, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless. That would mean agencies would be able to find housing for the homeless within 30 days, which is not always possible in this housing market.

“Right now, the lack of affordable housing is really the main factor that’s limiting our ability to help people get back into housing quickly to help meet that 30-day goal,” he said.

The Crossings at Fourth and Preston Apartments have helped cut the number of chronically homeless by offering subsidized or even free rent, but finding housing is not just an issue of paying rent.

“If we had all the money we needed to pay rental payments, we still don’t necessarily have the housing stock for people to move into, so that needs to change for us to really move closer to that functional end of homelessness,” Haro said.

TJACH will go out into the community in January to conduct an up-to-date count of the number of chronically homeless.

Source: CBS19 NEWS