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Coalition For the Homeless Completes Louisville Count

An early morning count Thursday found 73 people living on the streets in Louisville.

Now, the Coalition for the Homeless will compile all the numbers of homeless from shelters and those counted on the street and create a "snapshot" of how many people experience homelessness on a given night, said Susanne Binford, a spokeswoman with Seven Counties Services.

The official snapshot total is expected to be available in the spring.

Nearly 230 residents volunteered for the annual count— more than ever before.

Despite a bit of rain, Binford said the count "went well."

The annual count is done in effort to assess the state of homelessness in the city, she said. Every community that receives federal funding from the department of Housing and Urban Development conducts the count.

The number of homeless reported to HUD following the count plays a role in how much funding communities receive from the agency, she added.

The count is usually done in winter months, when most people without a home are in shelters, Binford said.

Ages of those counted this morning ranged from about 19 to 67, she said. She added there was a mix of both men and women.

Last year, about 70 people were counted.

In 2013, the on-the-street count was 63 people. In 2012, the number was 152.

Binford said the increase in count results this year does not necessarily mean that homeless numbers overall are on the rise.

"We were able to cover a significantly larger area this year," she said. "It was also signifcantly warmer."

Warmer weather means less people would be sleeping in the shelter and more people would be on the street, she said.

In fact, as WFPL has previously reported, since 2010, the homeless population in Kentucky has dropped about 23 percent, according to HUD’s 2014 annual homeless report to Congress, which was released earlier this month.

Natalie Harris, director of the Coalition for the Homeless, said the declining numbers statewide are especially evident among veterans and chronically homeless individuals.  Still, the number of homeless families has remained constant, she added.

But some veterans were among the people found sleeping outside this morning, Binford said.

Earlier this year city officials announced an initiative to get all homeless veterans in a permanent home by 2016.

Binford said despite some veterans still living on the streets, she believes the goal can be reached.

Lexington volunteers counted 37 people living on the street. Two years prior more than 90 people were counted.

But Charlie Lanter, the director of Lexington's Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention, said the decrease can probably be attributed to a better job being done in sheltering individuals, not a drop in overall homelessness.

"I wouldn't necessarily read into that that we have a big drop in homelessness," he said. "What it probably means is more people have moved out of the cold and into the shelters. It probably means were doing a better job of sheltering people, which is a great thing." 

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.