2012 Cambridge Homeless Census


4/19/2012

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During the last ten days of January 2012, hundreds of communities across the country conducted their annual homeless census as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The census includes a count of unsheltered individuals, and a count of sheltered and transitionally housed families and individuals. Municipal and program staff completed the count of individuals and families staying in emergency shelters and transitional housing on the night of Jan. 25-26. During the same night, the cities of Cambridge and Somerville jointly carried out the unsheltered portion of the census.

Six teams of volunteers followed a series of prescribed routes through the two cities during the pre-dawn hours to complete the unsheltered count. The teams included Cambridge and Somerville residents, students from Harvard University, staff from homeless service providers, the Cambridge Police Department, the Cambridge Community Foundation and other City staff. The teams were led primarily by street outreach workers from CASPAR's First Step Street Outreach program, with radio and emergency backup from Professional Ambulance and Cambridge Multi-Service Center staff. As they completed the count, teams offered individuals transportation to shelters, and distributed sandwiches made by City staff, blankets donated by Professional Ambulance, and fleece scarves made and donated by Many Helping Hands, the MLK Day of Service volunteers.

According to Homeless Services Continuum of Care Planner Liz Mengers, the census counted 357 individual homeless persons and 46 homeless families (128 persons) – a total of 485 persons experiencing homelessness. Of the 357 individual homeless persons, 192 were staying in emergency shelter, 93 were in transitional housing, 66 were counted on the street and 6 were hospitalized. The 46 homeless families included 46 women, 7 men and 75 children. Twenty-five of those 46 families were residing in emergency shelters and 21 were staying in transitional housing programs.

The 2012 census total of 485 persons, including persons in families and single individuals, shows a slight increase (less than 3%) over the 2011 total of 471 persons. The 2012 count is consistent with historical trends that show higher sheltered counts and lower street counts when the weather is very cold, and lower sheltered counts and higher street counts when the weather is milder as it was this year. The number of persons counted on the street increased by 22 persons in 2012 – from 44 people counted on the street in 2011 to 66 in 2012. The 2012 count of 66 is consistent with the 2010 count of 61 persons, when the weather was milder than in 2011. While the 2012 total count was higher than in 2011, the sheltered count of individuals was down by 9 persons, a slight change that may be explained by the extremely inclement weather in 2011 that likely caused more people to seek shelter indoors.                                                                                       

"Some significant facts about the City’s homeless services and approach to preventing and ending homelessness are not represented in the census data,” said Assistant City Manager for Human Services Ellen Semonoff.  “Cambridge maintains and continues to develop funding for Permanent Supportive Housing (housing with services available) for formerly homeless persons. On the night of the census, the number of formerly homeless persons (individuals and persons in families) living in HUD-funded Permanent Supportive Housing was 411. Additionally, the census count does not reflect that since the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing (HPRP) program began in August 2009, Cambridge has provided homelessness prevention assistance to over 350 households and rapid rehousing assistance to 25 households.”

Click here for more information on the Department of Human Services Website.

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