Report Shows Significant Drop In Chronic Homelessness In Sedgwick County
The annual “point-in-time” count of homeless people in Wichita and Sedgwick County shows some changes in the population this year.
The survey found 593 people were homeless, which is a slight increase from last year, and the highest overall number since 2014.
Delane Butler, vice president of marketing for the United Way of the Plains, says this snapshot suggests more work needs to be done to address the local homeless problem.
“Even those numbers might fluctuate through the year, they can use that one point in time to trend it to see if services are needed more in certain areas,” Butler says.
The United Way coordinated the one-day homeless count that took place Jan. 30-31. The agency is part of a coalition of community organizations and homeless advocates that use the data to plan services and measure progress in addressing homelessness each year.
The 2019 survey also found a 39 percent drop in the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a person is considered chronically homeless when he/she has a disabling condition who has been homeless for 12 months in the last three years. HUD defines a disabling condition as one that impairs the individual’s ability to get or keep a job or take care of personal matters.
Five years ago, there were 107 people considered chronically homeless. This year, there are 20. Butler says the downward trend might be the result of more housing options available.
“The programming that’s been done over the last couple of years to increase transitional housing instead of just temporary housing has helped reduce that chronically homeless number,” Butler says. “And so that shows that that direction of services is making a difference.”
In the 2019 count, there were 300 beds in transitional housing compared to 191 last year. Homeless individuals in transitional housing are still considered literally homeless, but not chronically homeless.