St. Louis County homelessness increases 20% compared to five years ago

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A new report from St. Louis County’s 2022 annual Point in Time (PIT) count, conducted in January, shows a 20% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness.

This is a big increase compared to five years ago, however the county reports that the actual numbers are assumed to be even higher than the count.

This winter in Duluth, when the numbers are recorded, the Duluth Warming Center provided overnight shelter to 554 individuals. And in northern St. Louis County the number of hotel vouchers given out for emergency overnight shelter added up to 104.

Out of the people reported 57 were youth in Duluth and 32 were youth in the north. The county says that youth’s experiencing homeless are harder to record as many of them tend to couch surf and stay at a friend’s or family members’.

As the number of people experiencing homelessness increases the more community is on high alert.

The Continuum of Care Coordinator of St. Louis County, Courtney Cochran, says, “It is all urgent and that is the hard part. I think keeping our warming centers across the county resourced and well-staffed has been the most urgent thing year to year.”

The effects of the pandemic have been a main factor in the increase of homelessness, however Courtney Cochran says we might not even know the full extent of that until a future Point in Time count.

In Duluth a group of homelessness plan to debut their five year “Stepping on Up” plan to the community.

Joel Kilgour from CHUM says, "What we hope over the coming 5 years is to see a 65% increase in shelter capacity in the community, 200 new units in housing for people who are chronically homeless, and in the meantime looking for solutions that address the real public health and safety concerns of neighbors and businesses have related to the increase of homelessness. When people are living on the street especially with chronic illness it effects every one of us."

There first phase has yet to begin publically.