Lincoln sees homeless population reduced by half since 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Lincoln’s homeless population has reduced by half since 2012, according to the Lincoln Homeless Coalition.
Volunteers identified 451 homeless individuals during the coalition’s most recent count, which is down by 25 percent from last year, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .
Only 45 residents lacked shelter and were living on the street, according to the coalition’s findings. The majority identified as homeless were living either in transitional housing or some form of shelter.
“It’s a significant drop,” said Lee Heflebower, housing director at Region V Systems. “It’s been going down for several years, but this is a big dip.”
Roughly 16 homeless individuals were veterans, which is a 70 percent decrease from 2017.
“We’re very close to ending veteran homelessness,” Heflebower said.
She attributes the success to an effort with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the opening of an apartment complex for low-income veterans.
Jeff Chambers, director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center on Children, Families, and the Law, analyzed the data from the January 23 count. He cited this year’s decrease as the result of Lincoln agencies knowing who is the most vulnerable, coupled with rapid re-housing programs.
Representatives from Lincoln’s housing and service agencies update a list of the city’s homeless weekly with rankings of vulnerability, Chambers said. Outreach workers and service providers know most of the homeless individuals by name.
“They have a good handle on who’s experiencing homelessness,” Heflebower said. “Unless someone showed up 20 minutes ago on the bus, we’ve got it.”
Rapid re-housing programs have also been successful by offering short-term shelter, typically between 3 and 18 months. Agencies can then provide services, such as mental health or addiction counseling.
“Get them housing, get them support, look at the issues that made them homeless,” Heflebower said. “If you expect them to have their lives in place before they move into housing, that makes it difficult and they’re on the streets longer.”
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com