Nashville's homeless population sees a slight decrease, according to annual count

May 30 2017
Posted by: Staff
Nashville's homeless population sees a slight decrease, according to annual count

By: Amelia Ferrell Knisely

An annual tally of Nashville’s homeless population shows a slight decrease since the last count in 2016, while more youth are experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness.

According to the point-in-time count, there are currently 2,337 people experiencing homelessness in Nashville, a slight decrease from 2,365 reported in 2016. The Metro Development and Housing Agency released the findings May 22.

The count was conducted Jan. 26 and into the early hours of Jan. 27 by hundreds of volunteers and outreach workers. The temperature was 34 degrees during the count, and no emergency shelters were open during the tally.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the one-night count in January, and Nashville will send its results to HUD in order determine how much federal funding the city will receive. Metro was awarded $3.2 million from HUD during the 2016 fiscal to help combat homelessness in the area. 

The PIT count showed an increase in the number of youth experiencing homelessness in Nashville; the number jumped this year from 18 to 28 for unsheltered youth, and 64 to 80 for sheltered youth. 

Other data from the count includes:

1,682 person were counted as sheltered homeless; 655 were reported as unsheltered homeless. 

382 individuals are experiencing unsheltered chronic homelessness; the report showed no families were experiencing unsheltered chronic homelessness. 

In 2016, 572 households were reported as unsheltered chronic homeless; the latest count tallies that number at 382, a 33 percent decrease.

The count also showed there has been a 39 percent decrease in individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. In 2015, HUD redefined “chronic homelessness,” tightening the definition to only include individuals “with a disability who live either in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven or in an emergency shelter” for at least a year. It also includes people who are in an institutional care facility if the individual has been living in the facility for fewer than 90 days and was homeless prior to entering the facility. 

HUD definitions largely guide the scope of the PIT count, and numbers exclude people who currently reside in hotels or are “doubled up” with family or friends. The count has been criticized by outreach workers, who say the number is closer to 23,000, as providing a very narrow view of the city’s homeless population.

The data also showed a 1 percent increase in the total number of veteran households. Under Mayor Megan Barry, Metro has stepped up its efforts in finding housing for veterans and has encouraged landlords to accept Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers.

MDHA attributed the decrease in the city’s adult homelessness numbers to “improved opportunities and systems to house the chronically homeless, and a stricter ‘chronic’ definition and standard by HUD.”

“While I am glad to see the numbers moving in the right direction, we still have more work to do as a community to ensure that all Nashvillians have access to adequate shelter and affordable housing,” said Barry, who participated in the PIT count in January.  “This year, we need to align every resource to allow the unhoused to find a place to call home. We are increasing funding for homelessness services and outreach, while also investing more money in affordable housing initiatives.”

The 2016 U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Report on Hunger and Homelessness reported a 10 percent increase in homelessness in Nashville from 2015 to 2016; the annual survey relies on PIT count data to compile its numbers.   

Photo credit: Open Table Nashville 

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