Report shows small rise in homelessness in Marion County prior to pandemic

The number of homeless people remained relatively flat in Marion County from 2019 to 2020, according to an annual homeless point-in-time count, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention announced Thursday.

The count was taken in January, so it didn’t consider the number of people newly experiencing homelessness because of the pandemic. It’s widely expected that homelessness will increase now that eviction and foreclosure moratoriums that were implemented early in the pandemic have expired. 

The point-in-time count is conducted in January each year and gives the community a baseline to the state of homelessness in Marion County. 

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Marion County increased 1%, from 1,567 in 2019 to 1,588 in 2020. 

The count, conducted on Jan. 22 this year, includes people who are unsheltered or staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing and safe havens. 

For more than a decade, the Indiana University Public Policy Institute and CHIP have collaborated with local organizations to conduct Marion County’s PIT Count. The data is used to inform community planning and assessment of the homeless services system. The annual count is also required for communities to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps fund local homelessness prevention efforts. 

A key finding of this year’s Point-in-Time Count is the racial disparities among Marion County’s homeless population. A majority of people counted for 2020, 54%, were Black, and 5% were Hispanic or Latino.

Those percentage were down from 2019, but they remain disproportionately high compared with Marion County’s population, which is 28% Black and about 10% Hispanic.  

“The immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness and the role racial inequity plays in rehousing have only become more evident in the wake of COVID-19,” CHIP executive director Chelsea Haring-Cozzi said in written comments. “If we hope to reduce homelessness in Indianapolis, we must first recognize the effect chronic health disparities play in housing insecurity. Homelessness does not happen in isolation, but is rather symptomatic of systemic inequities, changes in housing markets, shifts in the local economy and workforce, a national health care crisis and public policy decisions.” 

To view the full report, click here.

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