Homelessness Continues To Grow


The number of homeless people counted in 2012 is still on the rise compared to the last four years. Now, homeless shelters and service providers are gearing up for another street count but they’re not expecting that trend to change.

Every January and July staffers and volunteers who work with the homeless hit the streets for a coordinated statewide effort to count homeless people. The latest numbers from 2012 show that 46 more people were without stable housing than in January of 2011. Chris Lashock works with the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Cities and is one of the coordinators of the homeless count.He says 46 more homeless may not sound like a big deal but it’s part of a bigger problem, “Having that slight increase still is cause for concern. On the last Wednesday in January in 2012 we had over 6000 people that were homeless on that night.”

The most troubling says Lashock was that more people were found living on the street than in 2011, “Knowing that there are 581 people that are sleeping outdoors at a given time, in particular in the month of January, regardless of the season as well people sleeping outdoors are the most vulnerable population within the homeless.”

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But Lashock says there was a bright spot in the data, “We had half the number of unsheltered veterans in 2012 compared to 2011. So, the fact that they’re getting off the streets obviously is very encouraging.”

Robyn Thibado is a director with West Cap, a community action agency in Menomonie. She says rural areas are seeing the steady increase in homelessness though it is harder to spot, “Our transitional housing program that we run very rarely has a spot open and that is generally filled within a couple of days.”

The next homeless point in time count is scheduled for the last Wednesday in January.