Indianapolis Homeless Population: 2020 Census Results Released
The annual homeless count, released Thursday, showed there was a 9% decrease in Marion County’s homeless population from last year with 1,761 people homeless overnight. of January 24.
Of these people, 202 were homeless, living in places deemed unsuitable for human habitation, such as on the streets, under underpasses, in encampments or in their cars. Meanwhile, 1,559 were housed, meaning they were living in places such as emergency shelters, transitional housing, temporary supportive housing or non-congregate shelters such as hotels or repurposed schools .
The census is a snapshot of the number of people living on the streets on a single night per year. It is required by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Thirty trained community volunteers worked with six to eight outreach staff for five days, from January 24 to January 28, to administer the census survey. They asked people they met where they stayed the night of January 24 to determine how many people were unsheltered.
Affordable Housing in IndyOver 100 affordable apartments planned in Noblesville. “The need of thousands more” remains
Volunteers haven’t literally “scoured every street,” said Chelsea Harring-Cozzi, executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, which does the annual tally. Instead, they worked from comprehensive maps that outreach workers had created in preparation for the census and visited places they knew people were experiencing homelessness.
The survey results are encouraging, Harring-Cozzi said.
This indicates the city is “heading in the right direction,” said Rodney Stockment, senior director of homelessness strategy for the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development.
But, they said, the city has even more homelessness today than before the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in record numbers of homeless people and the 2021 one-time count was the highest in a decade.
The number of people experiencing homelessness is still the highest since 2017.
Andrew Merkely said while we can’t say for sure what has led to fewer homeless people this year than last, he believes there is a correlation to the significant funding the city has invested in homeless solutions last year.
The city used federal funds to open up hotel beds to homeless people as part of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic
It also used about $10 million in grants for rapid relocation services.
What we learned from the 2022 homelessness survey
Black residents continue to be disproportionately affected by homelessness in Marion County. Despite making up nearly 30% of the overall population, black people made up 56% of the homeless population, and up from 54% last year.
“This is due to issues such as systemic racism in housing as well as disparate access to health care, economic and educational opportunities,” the report said.
Although the homeless population is still mostly made up of single people, a disturbing new trend has begun in the last 3 years: an increasing number of families with underage children are homeless, Harring-Cozzi said. The trend calls for homelessness service providers to work on more targeted strategies and funding to address family homelessness, she said.
Families with many children, more than three children, are particularly vulnerable, she said. The housing supply suffers from a particular shortage of 3 to 5 bedroom units, which poses a challenge for large families facing housing instability to find accommodation, she added.
The Department of Metropolitan Development said it has made a concerted effort to ask affordable housing developers to develop more 3- to 4-bedroom units to fill the gap.
Black female-headed families, in particular, are showing up at shelters, Harring-Cozzi said.
The report revealed that youth homelessness has also continued to rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of homeless people aged 18 to 24 has almost doubled throughout the pandemic, from 66 in 2020 to 120 in 2022.
More children under 18 are homeless now than before the pandemic, with 313 in 2022 compared to 207 in 2020.
People between the ages of 35 and 61 still make up the largest homeless population in Marion County.
Life in IndianapolisIndyStar Project 317: Here’s all our stories so far
The number of people aged 62 and over experiencing homelessness has fallen for the first time in at least six years, to 144 from a high of 206 in 2021.
Harring-Cozzi said the survey likely underestimates LGBTQ people, who may not identify as such when asked.
Other key findings from the survey include:
- More people experiencing homelessness were male than other genders, with approximately 62% identifying as male, 38% identifying as female, and 0.3% identifying as another gender identity .
- 37.3% of the homeless population was white, 56.4% was black, and 4.2% was Hispanic. Asians and Aboriginals made up 1% of the population respectively.
- The number of homeless veterans fell from 257 in 2021 to 167 in 2022, matching the downward trend in veteran homelessness in Indianapolis since 2016.
- 101 respondents said they actively flee domestic violence, a slight drop from 2020, the last time people were asked about this issue.
Chronic homelessness continues to persist, affecting people with disabilities, mental illness
Chronic homelessness has increased over the past two years, from 125 people who were chronically homeless in 2020 to 139 today.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development defines chronic homelessness as affecting people who have experienced at least one disability and who have been homeless for at least one consecutive year or who have been homeless at least four times in the past last three years, which is up to a total of one year or more.
Although the majority of the homeless population is black, the majority of the chronically homeless are white, making up 59% of the group.
Many homeless people have a disability. The most frequently reported disability was a mental health problem, which accounted for 76.5% of the disabilities reported by homeless people.
Contact IndyStar reporter Ko Lyn Cheang at [email protected] or 317-903-7071. Follow her on Twitter: @kolyn_cheang.