Indiana’s annual measure of its homeless population shows a slight decrease since last year and a nearly ten percent drop since the start of the decade. But homeless advocates say it’s not time to celebrate.
Indiana’s point-in-time homeless count – which took place on one night in late January – shows about 5,800 Hoosiers without a home, down 2-percent from last year.
Alan Witchey is the executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention. He says the count doesn’t reflect the actual number of homeless people in the state.
Between fluctuations on a day-to-day basis and parts of the population that simply go uncounted, Witchey says the best research suggests the real number is two to three times the count – meaning Indiana’s homeless population could be ten to 15,000 people. Still, he says while the problem is complex, some of the answers are simple.
“This is not an issue like cancer where we don’t know the cure," Witchey says. "This is not an issue like education where people can argue in many, many different ways over what the solution is. This is an issue where we know providing more housing, more housing subsidies will help resolve this issue.”
The 2015 homeless count does show a 30-percent increase in people living on the streets instead of shelters, but the number of homeless households with children is down 15-percent.