Walla Walla County homeless numbers hold steady

The annual survey finds some demographic shifts, but exactly the same number as last year.

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WALLA WALLA -- The latest Homeless Point in Time survey delivered a classic "good news, bad news" message.

The good news? The number of homeless individuals hasn't increased since last year. The bad news? The number hasn't dropped either.

The results were delivered to Walla Walla County Commissioners Monday by Susan Kralman, coordinator for Walla Walla County's 10-year plan for ending homelessness.

This year's survey was taken on Jan. 27 at locations throughout Walla Walla County, Kralman said. According to the National Weather Service, weather conditions were dry with a high of 40 degrees and a low of 33 degrees.

This year's count showed 521 homeless individuals, exactly the same number as last year. Homeless households showed a slight decrease from last year, going from 294 to 281.

One large decrease was the number of children newborn to 17 years of age, which this year totaled 181 individuals, down from 249 in 2010. The largest group of homeless adults remained in the age range of 26-35, with 100 counted this year as opposed to 71 last year.

Under the heading of "where did you stay last night?" one category that jumped in numbers were people listed as living out of doors, Kralman said. This was due to the inclusion of people found to be living in trailers without running water, electricity or otherwise "not fit for habitation." This year those numbers totaled 50 individuals and 17 households as opposed to 2010 when the totals were three individuals and three households.

While changes in some questions made comparisons between this year and previous years not possible, Kralman said, as in past years, alcohol and substance abuse were the No. 1 answers for "situations leading to homelessness" among households. Substance abuse also remained at the top of disabilities listed by respondents to the survey.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.



By the numbers

Survey taken Jan. 27 at locations throughout Walla Walla County. High temperature was 40 degrees, low that night was 33 degrees.

Individuals homeless 521 (same as 2010 total)

Households homeless 281 (down from 294 last year)

Sex

All males 280

All females 238

Single males 138

Single females 40

Age

0-5 years old 56

6-12 years old 80

13-17 years old 45

18-20 years old 23

21-25 years old 27

26-35 years old 100

36-45 years old 73

46-55 years old 84

56-64 years old 21

65+ years old 12

Disabilities

Chronic substance abuse 99

Mental health 78

Physical 34

Developmental 23

Chronic health condition 20

HIV/AIDS 0

Veteran status

Veteran-served 45

Veteran-benefits 18

Where did you stay last night? (Individuals)

Temporarily with family or friends** 199

Transitional housing* 163

Emergency shelter 81

Out of doors 50

Jail** 16

Vehicle 10

Abandoned building 2

Where did you stay last night? (Households)

Transitional housing* 98

Temporarily with family or friends** 94

Emergency shelter 48

Out of doors 17

Jail** 16

Vehicle 6

Abandoned bldg 2

Chronically homeless

1 year or more 17

At least 4 episodes in past 3 years 10

Domestic violence

Family member victim of domestic violence 55

Top 10 situations that caused homelessness (Households)

Alcohol/substance abuse 115

Unable to pay rent/mortgage 103

Job loss 83

Family crisis/break-up 80

Mental illness 45

Temporary living situation ended 44

Domestic violence 42

Conviction (midemeanor/felony) 32

Illness-health problems 30

Eviction 28

Top six sources of income and benefits (Households)

Public assistance 100

None 70

Social Security 50

Part-time work 34

Veterans Administration benefits 18

Full-time low-wage job 17

*Effective 2011, Washington state and the federal Housing and Urban Development no longer consider individuals or households in the Transitional Housing Operating Rent or Tenant-based Rental Assistance programs homeless. However, for continuity and comparison purposes they were kept in the 2011 Homeless Point In Time report and account for 62 individuals and 31 households.

**Included in the 2011 count, but not considered homeless per state and federal definition.

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