[Hpn] Snapshot Of Utah's Homeless

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Fri, 02 Nov 2001 13:52:27 -0800


Friday, November 2, 2001

Snapshot Of Utah's Homeless


Nearly 1,500 people were in Utah's homeless, emergency or transitional
shelters, with the vast majority located in the Salt Lake City-Ogden
metropolitan area, according to a Census Bureau report based on a
single-night count conducted last year.

Some national officials criticized the report released earlier this week,
saying it did not contain enough information to help target services. But
Utahns who work with the state's homeless population said the count sounded
accurate for a typical day.

The bureau scrutinized shelter populations on March 27, 2000.

The Road Home, which operates the Salt Lake Community Shelter at 210 S. Rio
Grande St., estimates 2,000 people statewide are homeless each day.

As far as shelter space, "1,500 beds has to be pretty close," Matt
Minkevitch, executive director of the organization, said Thursday. About
2,150 people were given emergency shelter at the Salt Lake City facility
last year. 

The Census Bureau stressed the report should not be viewed as an accurate
count of people experiencing homelessness, saying the totals were designed
to provide a "snapshot" of populations in shelters on that particular night.

Types of shelters included were emergency shelters for people without
conventional housing; shelters with temporary lodging for children who are
runaways, neglected or without conventional housing; and transitional
shelters for those without conventional housing, as well as hotels and
motels used to provide shelter.

In Utah, 1,494 people were counted in those venues. Of those, 79 percent
were in the Salt Lake-Ogden metropolitan area; 40 percent were within Salt
Lake City limits. 

The results are not comparable to a 1990 count because of differences in the
way the surveys were conducted.

Earlier this year, the bureau said it found 280,527 homeless people
nationwide during the three-day survey. Of those, 170,706 were in shelters,
it said. 

New York and California together represented nearly 35 percent, while Utah
accounts for about 1 percent of the homeless total.

Utah Issues Center for Poverty Research and Action estimated in its 2000
annual report that 3,229 people in Utah were homeless.

That number, however, in- cluded "doubled-up" homeless -- those living with
people such as friends and relatives. The Census Bureau separated those

Utah's shelter totals closely mirrored the national demographics in the
census report. The majority of those in Utah shelters, 80 percent, were over
the age of 18, as compared with 74 percent nationally. Sixty-nine percent
were men, compared with 61 percent nationally.

Edison Gore, deputy division chief for the census bureau, said the survey
goal was to add as many people as possible to the Census 2000 count. That
plan won approval from several national homeless advocacy groups, Gore said.

An exact count of the homeless is "virtually impossible," said the
coalition's education director, Barbara Duffield.

"Homelessness is a temporary condition that people go through," Duffield
said, and shelter numbers can vary widely.

The bureau also pointed out that not all shelters and soup kitchens were
open during the dates of the survey, and that double-counting may have
occurred because people may use more than one shelter or soup kitchen.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
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