Homelessness in Idaho (View the chart: Where are the Homeless?)
Each January, local shelters conduct the Point in Time Count, a one-night census of Idaho’s homeless population. Volunteers go out to homeless shelters, sites that provide services to the homeless, and to streets and other locations where homeless people congregate. In the course of the Count they conduct surveys, asking homeless people a variety of questions: age, race, disability status, whether or not they are staying in a shelter, whether they are a veteran, if they have been a victim of domestic violence, what caused them to become homeless. It’s not a perfect count. The homeless are a notably difficult group to survey, and it is impossible to find every homeless person. The study does not include people with no home of their own who are staying with friends or relatives, even though many would regard such people as homeless or nearly so. Still, it’s a thorough effort at counting and describing the people in our state who spend their night in a homeless shelter or somewhere “not intended for human habitation.”
There is a surprising amount of variation from region to region. In Ada County, 93% of homeless people stay at a shelter while in North Idaho more than 58% of the homeless are unsheltered. In South East Idaho, the homeless population is overwhelmingly male, while in South Central Idaho, over half of the homeless are women. The percentage of homeless people who are children ranges from 17% to 49%. In nearly all areas, the number of homeless veterans and victims of domestic violence in 2012 was substantially higher than it was in 2007. However, the total number of homeless people in Idaho declined by about 230 individuals, continuing a smaller decline between January of 2010 and of 2011. It will be interesting to see whether future Point in Time Count reveal a continuing decline in the number of homeless people in Idaho or whether this trend reverses.
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