[Hpn] Wisconsin shelter population rises 9% in decade

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Wed, 31 Oct 2001 11:35:31 -0800


Original URL: 
http://www.jsonline.com/news/census2000/oct01/census31103001.asp

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Number of shelter residents in state rises 9% in decade, census finds

By MIKE JOHNSON
of the Journal Sentinel staff

Last Updated: Oct. 31, 2001

The number of people living in homeless and emergency shelters increased
about 9% in Wisconsin over the last decade, a jump that mirrors the state's
overall population increase between 1990 and 2000, according to 2000 census
figures released Tuesday.
Homeless
According to U.S. Census figures, here are the number of people in homeless
or emergency shelters:

Wisconsin
1990: 1,555
2000: 1,700

United States
1990: 178,638
2000: 170,706

Related Coverage
Section: Census 2000

Despite the increase, Wisconsin is near the bottom of states in the
proportion of its population in homeless shelters, according to the U.S.
Census Bureau.

Census officials reported 1,700 people living in shelters in Wisconsin in a
one-night snapshot taken in late March for the decennial census, up from
1,555 in 1990.

In Wisconsin, 0.03% of the state's 5,363,675 people were in homeless
shelters. That made the state eighth lowest among the 50 states, Washington,
D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Washington, D.C., had the highest proportion in shelters at 0.3%, while
Puerto Rico was the lowest at 0.02%.

Joe Volk, a Milwaukee advocate for the homeless, said the count of those
living in shelters likely was close to the mark.

But it is not "an accurate count of the homeless - we know they turn people
away from shelters for lack of space," said Volk, chairman of the Milwaukee
Emergency Shelter Task Force.

Thus, the figures are "not very helpful" in terms of helping cities and
agencies determine where to provide services, Volk said.

"We know the numbers in the shelter. What we'd love to get a handle on is
how many people are homeless," he said.

Census Bureau officials agreed, stressing that the shelter figures should
not be construed as a tabulation of "people experiencing homelessness."

"Although we made a determined effort to enumerate people living in a
variety of shelters . . . we cannot be certain that all places were covered
or that all people normally using shelters were included in the shelter
counts," the Census Bureau's Annetta Smith and Denise Smith wrote in their
report "Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population: 2000."

Of Wisconsin's "people without conventional housing," 694 of those counted
were in shelters in the five-county Milwaukee-Racine metropolitan
statistical area, the figures showed. Another 279 were in shelters in the
Madison metro area. In the city of Milwaukee alone, there were 581 people
living in shelters.

Though the count in Wisconsin rose, the number of people counted as living
in shelters across the United States declined 4.4% between 1990 and 2000,
from 178,638 to 170,706, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's report. For
2000, 0.06% of the nation's 281.4 million people were living in shelters.

New York had the most people living in shelters, 31,856, while North Dakota
had the least, 178.

The population in emergency and transitional shelters was counted on March
27 and included emergency shelters with sleeping facilities; shelters for
children who are runaways, neglected or without conventional housing;
transitional shelters for people without conventional housing; and hotels
and motels used to provide shelter for people without conventional housing,
the Census Bureau said. Shelters for abused women or shelters against
domestic violence were not included in the count.

On March 28, people visiting soup kitchens were counted, and on March 29,
people living outdoors were targeted.

The bureau earlier this year reported finding slightly more than 280,500
homeless people, including those in shelters, said Edison Gore, a census
deputy division chief. But that number was not an official count. It was
contained in a census evaluation report.

Gore said there is no state-by-state breakdown of the number of homeless
people, and the Census Bureau never intended to do that with the 2000
Census. But, he said, census enumerators "made extraordinary efforts" to
count everyone.

According to Tuesday's census report, one census tract on Milwaukee's
near-north side accounted for nearly 7% of the state's shelter population.
That tract is bordered by Brown, Galena, 6th and 12th streets.

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Oct. 31, 2001.

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