The Results Are In! 16.5% Decrease in Homelessness in the Roanoke Region

On January 30, 2014, 50 volunteers and homeless service providers took to the shelters and the streets to conduct the Roanoke Region’s 2014 Point-in-Time Count.

The Roanoke Region’s Point-in-Time Count provides a count of sheltered and unsheltered persons in our region. The Count is required annually in each jurisdiction nationwide. The data collected is important in order to qualify for funding but also to our communities in measuring our progress in ending homelessness. The data is also valuable to area service providers, policy makers, and the general public on the individual and family challenges and barriers associated with homelessness.

The numbers have been crunched and the results are in…

We are pleased to announce the results indicate progress and a decrease in homelessness in our region!

The number of homeless individuals (adults and children) has decreased 31% since January 2012 (641 counted), with the count decreasing 16.5% in January 2014 (440 counted) over January 2013 (527 counted). The number of homeless children in our shelter system decreased 21% in January 2014 (67 counted) over January 2013 (85 counted).

With three years of decreasing numbers in the PIT Count, it is safe to say we are seeing a downward trend in the number of people experiencing homelessness.

This can be credited to the dual but intertwined strategies of homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing put in place by the Blue Ridge Interagency Advisory Council on Homelessness and executed through the Blue Ridge Continuum of Care. Some of the strategies that seem to be working are increased collaboration, more strategically targeted prevention services, and clearer roles for service providers with an increased focus on quick exits to permanent housing with follow-up coordination and case management services.

Rapid re-housing in Roanoke is working!

The community-wide rapid re-housing structure has been implemented by the Council of Community Services’ Community Housing Resource Center. The project has developed partnerships with 81 landlords in our community willing to rent to homeless clients. The structure focuses on moving families into permanent housing quickly and includes a comprehensive and formalized referral and assessment process that has been developed among all the homeless service providers in our community.

Rapid re-housing in Roanoke has proven effective.

Since 2012, the community-wide rapid re-housing project has placed 228 individuals in 96 families in permanent housing.

Results of Rapid Re-Housing in Roanoke:

31 of these 228 re-housed individuals were chronically homeless.

  • A chronically homeless individual is someone who has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or who has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years and has a disability (as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development).

A significant decrease in the average # of days spent homeless

  • In April 2013, families served through the rapid re-housing project had spent an average of 187 days homeless.
  • In March 2014, families served through the rapid re-housing project had spent an average of 54 days homeless, a decrease of 71% – that’s 133 days!

A decrease in time spent in programs as a result of rapid re-housing

  • For example, the average length of stay for guests at Family Promise of Greater Roanoke was 87 days in 2012. In 2013, the average length of stay decreased to 48 days, a 45% reduction.

It’s evident that there has been substantial progress made in the region’s effort to end homelessness. Yet, there remains the fact that 440 people were homeless on January 30, 2014. This is likely due to the economy; a lack of jobs and affordable housing. The data reflects that a greater number of homeless are actively looking for work than were last year; and even though the homeless here are educated with 80% having a high school/GED education or higher, they are still unable to find gainful employment. The next steps are to create a better connection between workforce development efforts in the region and homeless service providers; and to implement a more comprehensive data collection and performance measurement system across the community.

Check out all of the Point-in-Time data on our website and you can check out past years too! (Go to About then Community Publications & Reports and scroll to the Homelessness Reports and PowerPoint Presentations – Go ahead and read all of the reports published if you’d like!)

Click here to access this year’s PIT Report!

Roanoke should be encouraged by the data in the report. Given the resources available to address the issues of homelessness, these outcomes are reason to commend those involved in the effort to reduce homelessness in the Roanoke Valley.