beats audio headphones cheap ‘I don’t see a reflection of that at all’ Local group reacts to decline in Indiana’s homeless numbers
“Today I had a call from a woman who will be evicted if she can’t come up with her rent money,” said Exec. Director Susie Thompson.
That’s just one of the stories heard every day by Thompson. While Reach mainly focuses on disabilities, cases of homelessness are also very common for the agency.
“We are seeing such a need and a contiunous need,” she said, “I had to come and address the fire alarm here at the agency. There was a woman on the porch of one of our properties with all of her belongings around her, and because she had a dog she couldn’t go to any of the shelters. So she chose to be absolutely on the street instead of putting her pet at risk. When you see those kinds of things, you recognize that probably people are homeless, but those numbers are not being captured.”
Thompson says referrals at Reach continue to increase. In addition, one of their veterans programs has reached a high of 47 cases for homeless or high risk veterans, the highest they’ve had since the program’s establishment. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness is down in Indiana.
In their study, Indiana communities reported that 5,438 people experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017. That’s a 6.2 percent decrease since 2016.
The study also reports that chronic, or long term, homelessness decreased by 8.8 percent since last year. The homeless veteran population also declined by 7.2 percent.
We asked Thompson about her thoughts on the homelessness decline in Indiana.
“Well it’s new to me,” she said.
“I don’t see a reflection of that at all,” said Martina Butler Hull, Veteran Services Coordinator at Reach.
Both Thompson and Butler Hull say it’s difficult to get an accurate homeless count number.
“One of the other things that we face is that they do the homeless count every year in January,” Thompson said, “People that can be in housing, shelter or with friends in the cold winter, are going to choose to do that. So I just think there’s a whole lot of things going around that make those numbers unrealistic from our point of view.”
“When anybody whose got a place to go, anybody who can pay a couple of dollars and rent a couch for a night, or be taken in by their family around Christmas time and hang out for those coldest parts of winter,” Butler Hull said, “I think you’re missing a lot of people during that time.”
When it comes to understanding homelessness, Thompson says it goes beyond just living on the streets and it can happen to anyone at any time.
“They don’t have an address, they’ve had to give up all of their security and they are living from place to place. In my definition, that is homeless,” Thompson said, “So many people that we work with have a very limited or temporary job, or their income is so limited that one tragedy, one flat tire, one issue and they would be homeless as well.”
Butler Hull says homelessness continues to be a growing problem and she can tell by the new faces in clients.
“It’s almost more difficult when you meet a new person for the first time to realize that it’s still an ongoing problem,” she said, “I could introduce you to people that have stayed in our shelters, since day one we’ve been full.”
While the number of cases continues to go up, money and resources remain tight and competitive. However, Thompson says it’s not enough to stop them and other agencies from trying to put an end to the problem.
“I don’t believe that we’re alone here, I believe that all the agencies are facing these kinds of struggles,” Thompson said, “and we know that funds are limited, and we’re in a community where we’re all competing for the same dollars to help people. It’s just a continuous cycle, and I’m not sure where that ends or how it ends, but we’re going to keep fighting the fight.”