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News / Clark County News

Clark County homelessness up 9% from 2022 tally, according to Point in Time Count

People in shelters rose by 10 percent, with people in transitional housing rising by 9 percent

By Mia Ryder-Marks, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 6, 2023, 1:23pm

Homelessness in Clark County is on the rise.

Just-released data from Clark County’s primary nonprofit homeless service provider indicates homelessness is up 9 percent from a year ago.

Results from the Point in Time head count taken in communities across the country on a single day each year were released Wednesday, indicating 1,300 people were experiencing homelessness either outside, in a shelter or living in a transitional housing option in Clark County when the survey was conducted Jan. 26.

That compares with last year’s total of 1,197, according to the Council for the Homeless, which released the findings. Moreover, the number of people who were living in emergency shelters increased by 10 percent and those living in transitional housing options increased by 9 percent.

In a news statement, Council for the Homeless Executive Director Sesany Fennie-Jones, said: “Even though Clark County increased emergency shelter capacity, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased.”

Clark County Shelter Access Points

Council for the Homeless Housing Hotline: 360-695-9677

YWCA Clark County’s SafeChoice 24/7 Crisis Hotline for Domestic Violence Survivors: 1-800-695-0167 or 360-695-0501

Open House Ministries - A Family Shelter: 360-737-0300

Janus Youth Oak Bridge (Younger than age 18): 360-891-2634

 

Breakdown of numbers

The chronically homeless population saw a 54 percent increase, with 344 people identifying as living unhoused for more than a year — which includes people living outside, in a shelter or transitional housing option.

The number of chronically homeless unsheltered people increased 78 percent from 2022, while the number of unsheltered veterans increased 33 percent since last year, from 24 to 32.

The number of homeless people who are survivors of domestic violence increased 122 percent, from 51 people to 113.

Of the 1,300 people counted, 520 identified as women and 767 as men. Thirty-one percent identified themselves as people of color; the latest census data showed people of color represent about 19 percent of people in Clark County.

Of the total counted, 11 percent identified as Hispanic/Latinx, 9 percent identified as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 7 percent identified as Black/African American, 3 percent identified as Indigenous/Alaska Native, 1 percent identified as Asian and 5 percent identified as having multiple races.

The number of seniors age 62 or older increased from 96 people to 110, as a result of this population being prioritized for the new Bertha’s Place shelters, according to Council for the Homeless.

Veteran homelessness rose from 43 people to 52, and the number of homeless families with children rose from 74 to 82. The number of homeless young adults ages 18 to 24 rose from 74 people to 82 this year.

The results aren’t all bad news, however. The number of unaccompanied minors (younger than 18) fell 67 percent from 2022 — from 21 people to seven. The number of unsheltered families decreased, with 46 in 2022 and 43 this year. And more people look to be on the pathway to housing.

The survey highlighted that 428 people were living in an emergency shelter — up 10 percent from 2022, and 200 people living in transitional housing increased by 9 percent from the prior year. In a news statement, Council for the Homeless said that emergency shelter numbers increased due to Bertha’s Place opening to full capacity in 2023 and the opening of the city’s second Safe Stay community, Hope Village.

Homelessness in Clark County has steadily increased in the last five years. Factors contributing to this include inflation, rising rents, the COVID-19 pandemic and low vacancy rates for affordable homes.

In 2022, surveyors counted 1,197 people living unsheltered during its annual count — an increase of over 30 percent from the last survey taken in 2020, where 916 were counted. The 2021 survey was dismissed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, 958 people were cataloged during the annual head count, and 795 in 2018.

From 2023 to 2018, homelessness increased by 505 people, according to the annual surveys.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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