As part of the nationwide 2017 Point-in-Time (PIT) count, the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative conducted a one-night count of homeless individuals and families on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. With the help of local service providers, emergency shelters, housing programs and street count volunteers, the community has collected critical data to support the continued need for safe and affordable housing in Buncombe County.
In past years, the PIT count has been held during extreme cold weather. This results in more people seeking reprieve from the cold in area shelters. This year’s PIT count was held during unprecedented warm weather, making street outreach critically important to those experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the community.
The total homeless count during the 2017 PIT was 562 persons. In 2016, the total count was 509. The higher overall total in 2017 shows that 33 more people were counted during the unsheltered street count while 20 more individuals identified were staying at local shelters and transitional housing programs. While 562 homeless persons were also counted in the 2015 PIT, this year’s count shows more persons were identified as unsheltered than in recent previous years despite bed availability on the night of the PIT.
Veterans and chronic homelessness
In 2017, the PIT showed 14% (83 people) reported as being chronically homeless, which is consistent with the 2016 chronic percentage. No veteran families or chronically homeless families were reported in this year’s PIT and individual adult males (398) continue to account for the highest demographic representation in the community. Of the 562 individuals counted, 239 identified as veterans, representing 43% of the total homeless population in Buncombe County. Of those veterans counted, 178 were enrolled in Service Intensive Transitional Housing offered through VA funded programs.
Housing the homeless
Concerted efforts have been made in the community to identify, assesses and connect every eligible homeless household with resources and offer an appropriate housing intervention. Despite the zero vacancy rate for the past two years in affordable units in Buncombe County and the significant challenge in assisting homeless households move to stable, permanent housing, more than 400 homeless persons were housed in Buncombe County in 2016.
The Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee (HIAC) recently completed a Five Year Strategic Plan on Homelessness in Buncombe County, which affirms the HIAC mission to develop strategies, gain alignment and work collaboratively to implement innovative and effective models with community partners to effectuate the vision of the HIAC and support the operating principals essential to success. The plan delineates seven key priorities to address homelessness in Buncombe County:
- Case management;
- Safety and transitional services;
- Health care;
- Education and employment;
- Prevention and diversion.
The plan also recommends annual strategies be established that target specific sub-populations or action items and produce positive measurable outcomes for the community to continue to address issues surrounding homelessness in Buncombe County.
Please contact Christiana Glenn Tugman at 828-251-4048 or Jonathon Jones at 828-259-5733 for additional information related to the Point-in-Time methodology and historical community data.