As part of the nationwide 2018 Point-in-Time (PIT) count, the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative conducted a one-night count of homeless individuals and families on Jan. 31, 2018.
With the help of local service providers, emergency shelters, housing programs and street count volunteers, the community has collected additional data indicating the continued need for safe and affordable housing in Asheville and Buncombe County.
The total homeless count during the 2018 PIT was 554 persons. In 2017, the total count was 562. This decrease represents the ongoing work of community partners to help those experiencing homelessness to get stable, permanent housing, despite the shortage of affordable housing in the region. While other communities facing similar challenges are reporting increases in their homeless population, local programs are making an impact on the critical needs in light of high demand.
It is important to know that the numbers change from year to year and so do the people. A one-night count does not represent everyone who experiences homelessness throughout the year, but it is a helpful benchmark and allows the community to track trends over time. Within those trends are specific populations and the totals for these were also relatively static:
- Chronic homelessness remains at 82 people. Last year, 83 were identified.
- Veteran homelessness increased to 247 individuals from 239 last year.
- Family and youth homelessness was down to 43 adults and children from 57 last year.
The biggest shift in this years’ PIT count was based on the weather. Last year’s count was held during unprecedented warm spell, with 105 people sleeping outdoors, in cars or other places not meant for shelter. This year, colder temperatures prompted local shelters to issue a Code Purple Weather Advisory; exceeding their regular capacity and encouraging people to come in from the cold. This translated to only 57 people identified on the streets that night and 281 staying safe indoors, that is, 46 more than the 2017 shelter total of 235.
The full 2018 Point-In-Time Count report includes additional demographic detail and a summary of historic data. Consistent with the research and best practice, the most effective strategies to keep these numbers low and decreasing are housing focused collaborative efforts. The Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee (HIAC), consisting of shelter providers, housing programs, service agencies and community members, continues to pursue the targets detailed in the Five Year Strategic Plan on Homelessness. The plan outlines seven key priorities to address homelessness:
- Case management
- Safety and transitional services
- Health care
- Education and employment
- Prevention and diversion
Each goal is linked to specific strategies and designed to produce positive measurable outcomes. With concerted effort theses targets can help end and reduce homelessness in Buncombe County.
For more information related to the Point-in-Time methodology and historical community data, please contact Jonathon Jones at JJones2@ashevillenc.gov or 828-259-5733.