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Friday statistic: Homeless in Durham

Over the past 12 months, homeless families in Durham spent more than four of them living in emergency shelters and transitional housing. Homeless single men spent nearly three months without permanent housing, while homeless single women went two months.

The average number of days that homeless families and individuals stayed in shelters and transitional housing increased over the past year, after declining from 2011–2014.

These numbers were released by the Department of Community Development to the Homeless Services Advisory Committee this week. 


Main and Market streets  Photo by Lisa Sorg

Here are the comparison figures for the past fiscal year:

In 2015, families spent an average of 124 days homeless, up from 108 in 2014.

For single men, those figures were 88 days, up from 65.

For single women, 61 days, an increase from 55 the year prior.

 A caveat: The uptick in time may be attributed to the personal situations ofthese families and individuals. They are among the most vulnerable people receiving services, and are staying in shelters and transitional shelters longer until they can get permanent housing.

The good news for homeless families is that more of them are finding permanent housing, indicative of the city's focus on those services.

Here are the figures comparing 2015 to 2014: 

359 people living in families found permanent housing, up from 319.

100 single women did so, down slightly from 103.

And for single men, 221 found permanent housing, an increase from 219.

There is a ton more data breaking down Durham trends in homelessness, which I’m combing through. At first glance, several trends are encouraging—the number of chronically homeless families and men is decreasing or steady. However, single women seem to be faring more poorly, especially those who are chronically homeless and with disabilities.



Just Mary

Are folks who are receiving service from say Durham Rescue Mission counted in those numbers? I've heard not and that negatively affects the amount of money the City receives for services.

Lisa Sorg

At the committee meeting, Community Development department officials said all the receiving agencies had submitted their numbers to a centralized database. (I think it's called HMIS.) So that would include the Rescue Mission. Ernie Mills was at the meeting, and there was no mention of RM not submitting its data.

Patrice Nelson

It is true that our community is making progress at ending homelessness, especially for families, veterans and those who are chronically homeless and most vulnerable. As Executive Director of Urban Ministries of Durham which provides the community's emergency shelter housing the largest percentage of chronically homeless single adults and those faced with the greatest health obstacles, I am also well aware of the fact that more needs to be done to end homelessness, especially for single adults. Much has been said about the need for more affordable housing. There are many in our shelters who are working low wage jobs or who have limited disability incomes and can't afford the housing that is available. Thus, lengths of stay increase as they seek more employment, save for housing or are connected with resources to address other barriers to long term stability. These also tend to be the individuals who are not prioritized for rental subsidies that are rightly prioritized for families, veterans and those who are most vulnerable. While in the past, UMD set a 60 day limit for shelter stays for single adults, the policy is now to work with anyone in the shelter who is seeking employment and saving for housing and to allow them to stay longer and hopefully leave for a more stable housing situation. Our goal is to continue to perfect our community systems to provide more of our neighbors stable housing and the income to maintain it.
In response to another comment, the Durham Rescue Mission does not report client services and performance in the community wide North Carolina Homeless Management Information System (NCHMIS) so their data is not included in the recent Community Development Report.
Patrice Nelson, Executive Director, Urban Ministries of Durham

Just Mary

Thanks so much for the clarification Patrice. And THANK YOU for your ongoing work with UDM. Hopefully one day, UDM, Genesis Home, etc can work their way out of existence.

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