Homelessness increases in Charlottesville, Albemarle County | local government

Homelessness rates have increased in Charlottesville and Albemarle counties, fueled by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless.

The coalition’s Anthony Haro presented the organization’s findings at Monday’s city council business session.

“We believe everyone deserves a safe place to call home, it’s a human right,” Haro said.

According to the report, approximately 70% of people who needed coalition services in 2021 were homeless for the first time.

The coalition has identified 260 homeless people in the city and county, an increase from 177 in 2021. The figures were generated from a one-time survey in which the coalition polled the homeless population one night in January . .

Haro said the city needs to focus on a goal of making homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring.

“Each system is perfectly designed to achieve the results it achieves,” Haro said.

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Haro said the system currently appears to be set up to enable homelessness, if not create it. That has to change, he said, and that means the systems in place have to change.

“How do we move forward properly so that the homeless service system [and] all the systems with which we are interconnected can be aligned? ” He asked. ” And how to [we get] the right resources to achieve our goals?

The one-time survey found that 69% of homeless people were male, 29% were female, 1% were transgender, and 1% did not identify with one gender.

Haro said there may be more transgender and non-binary people experiencing homelessness.

The coalition found that 52% of homeless people were white, 41% were black and 7% identified as another race.

Haro said the coalition had identified 12 veterans from the area who were homeless and the survey found that 20% of adults said they had experienced domestic violence at some point in their past.

Another 32% of adults reported mental health problems and 57% of adults reported a chronic health problem or physical disability.

Haro said the most important solution to the problem is for the city to improve access to affordable housing.

“The biggest change has just happened in the last year and it’s directly related to the pandemic and the things the pandemic has brought about, like high housing costs and the lack of affordable housing available,” said Haro. “Housing solves homelessness.”

Other proposed solutions include increasing access to emergency shelters and finding more sources of transitional housing.

In 2021, 47% of participants who left the coalition’s homeless programs went to accommodation, a hotel or lived with friends and family. The average length of stay in emergency shelters was 136 days.

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