Homeless Number Down in BID Area

Thursday, February 7, 2013

By DowntownDC

A homeless count conducted by the DowntownDC BID on Thursday, January 31, shows 114 homeless people were living on Downtown streets at night, a 14 percent drop from the 132 people recorded on January 25, 2012. The downward trend is likely attributable to the colder weather, among other factors, which caused more homeless individuals to seek shelter indoors.

“The BID is very mindful of serving this segment of the Downtown population, and the information culled from the homeless count is useful in building consensus to provide for their housing needs,” said David Kamperin, the BID’s director of Public Space Management. “In addition, our mobile field app, which integrates GIS capabilities and reporting tools, now makes it possible to provide more accurate information about homeless individuals during the homeless count.”

What the results of the January 2013 count revealed about Downtown’s homeless population:

  • Nearly 70 percent were male; 11 percent female (the gender of 19 percent was unknown)
  • 40 percent were African American; 23 percent Caucasian (the race of 40 percent of the respondents was unknown)
  • The average age was 44
  • 12 percent were veterans
  • 22 admitted to having health issues
  • Most—41 individuals, usually found in groups of five or more—settled in the McPherson Square area.

Each January, the BID participates in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Point-in-Time Homeless Count, which provides a snapshot of the homeless population. Cities and communities across the country conduct the homeless surveys simultaneously. The reasons are multifold: to document the state of homelessness in the U.S.; identify trends and changes; address unmet needs; and justify more funding and resources for homeless individuals and families.

Besides the annual count, the BID began conducting quarterly counts last year to more closely monitor the homeless situation in Downtown. The quarterly counts help track our progress eliminating homelessness and improve our ability—and that of homeless service providers—to plan and implement effective services for homeless individuals. This year, the BID will also begin conducting daytime counts of homeless individuals and panhandlers to have a baseline of day versus nighttime activity.

All surveys are conducted in conjunction with Pathways to Housing DC, which jointly manages the Downtown Homeless Services Team, the city’s only non-governmental, clinically based outreach group dealing with chronic homelessness. At a time when housing vouchers are scarce, Pathways to Housing DC has elevated its level of outreach, particularly to veterans.

In January, more than 35 volunteers participated in the count, taken between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. They include members of the BID’s Homeless Services Team, BID staff, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) crisis intervention officers, the D.C. Department of Mental Health, Pathways to Housing DC, and local churches.

The Homeless Services Team, which has been working for five years to reduce the number of people living on Downtown streets, will continue to use a pragmatic, street-to-independence outreach program—known as Housing First—to move the chronically homeless into permanent supportive housing. You can read about their successes on the BID website.