I was in Washington D.C. last week at the invitation of Philip Mangano, Executive Director, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, to present information on the tremendous success we have had here in St. Louis in addressing the needs of homeless people.
By any measure the City of St. Louis has achieved some incredible results during the administration of Mayor Francis Slay to the point that nationally St. Louis is now recognized as having one of the most progressive and successful approaches to ending homelessness. The number of homeless people in St. Louis compared to other large cities is remarkably low in that we are far below census counts in other communities. In fact, based on comparative figures we have one of the lowest rates of homelessness in the country standing at .37% with a total count on any given day of 1,322 people. That compares favorably when you consider that Atlanta has over 5 times as many homeless people with 6,832 constituting a homeless rate of 1.4%. Washington D.C. is another example with a total of 5,518 homeless people with a rate of .95%. At the meeting in Washington D.C. last week, Los Angeles reported that they had 80,000 homeless people!
An even more dramatic picture in terms of the number of homeless people is provided when you combine data from St. Louis City and County. St. Louis County in their most recent McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance application submitted to HUD, reported a total of 336 homeless people which when combined with the City adds up to a total count of 1,658. The homeless rate then drops to .0012% of the population of the City and County, an incredibly low number based on a total population of almost 1.35 million.
Since our 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness was introduced in 2005, we have seen a dramatic drop in the homeless population in the City of St. Louis. In 2005, a census of the homeless population counted a total of 1,870 people and in our most recent count in July 2007, that number had plummeted to 1,322, a 30% reduction in 3 years! Much of that I attribute to the fact that we have been extremely successful in securing resources for the provision of permanent supportive housing by competing with other cities across the country in the annual McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance competition. Since the beginning of Mayor Slay’s administration, the City has received federal funding for 518 permanent supportive housing units which were included in the nearly $49 million that the Department of Human Services received from HUD since 2001.
This is really a great story of success involving many players and CARES Outreach is very much a part of that effort along with many other terrific homeless service providers in our community.