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Virginia homelessness decreases 8 percent

Homelessness in Virginia has declined 8 percent since 2010, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday in a press statement.

The data, collected by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, suggests the homeless rate for families has decreased 11 percent since 2010, and chronic homelessness has decreased 36 percent in the same time period. Individuals who are chronically homeless have a disabling condition and have either been homeless for a year or more, or had at least four episodes of homeless in three years, according to the federal definition.

The shift from traditional shelter service to rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing accounts for this reduction, McDonnell said.

Statewide collaboration between the state and local governments also helped lower the homeless
rate, said Pam Kestner, the Homeless Outcomes Coordinator in the Governor’s office.

But the state had hoped to achieve a 15 percent decrease in overall homelessness by 2013.
“We’ve made a lot of progress considering the tough economic times, but there are some places where the rate has gone up,” Kestner said.

Lynchburg, for example, has seen a 28 percent increase in homeless families since 2010.

As of January 2012, there were 47 more homeless families and 81 more individuals without homes in the area than there were in 2010.

Homelessness has also increased in Charlottesville, with nearly 100 more homeless families compared to two years ago.

But Kestner said the nature of the surveys, which are point-in-time surveys, make it difficult to pinpoint the exact homeless rate.

Point-in-time surveys capture “that picture of homelessness on the particular day” and are conducted yearly in January by the state’s Continuum of Care.


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