Survey: State homeless population increases by 9 percent
Vermont's homeless population grew by 9 percent this year, according to a report released Wednesday by two anti-homelessness groups.
The 2014 Point-in-Time survey counted 1,556 homeless Vermonters the night of Jan. 28, including 227 people who said they were victims of domestic violence and 371 children.
Formerly homeless people and those who help the homeless Wednesday said the actual number of homeless people in the state is likely much higher.
Federal budget cuts slashed the number of Section 8 vouchers in Vermont and contributed to the rise in homelessness this year, said Jeanne Montross, co-chairwoman of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness.
"We lost a lot of Section 8 vouchers due to sequestration," Montross said.
The survey found 166 people living outdoors or in places unfit for human habitation, an increase of 58 percent from 2013.
The Chittenden County Continuum of Care, which covers the state's most populous county, along with the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, which covers the rest of the state, released the survey.
It was performed via volunteers across the state who interviewed homeless people on the same night.
The full survey report includes more specific data about the number of people chronically homeless versus those using motel vouchers. It also includes the number of homeless households versus single people as well as the number of homeless veterans and disabled people.
The report, performed annually, only includes people who meet the federal definition of homelessness. It does not count people living with friends or "precariously housed."
Some said the study failed to capture an accurate picture of homelessness in Vermont.
"It's grossly undercounted, there's way more people that are living homeless than what this report says," said Morgan Brown, a member of the Vermont Council on Homelessness.
The report uses a definition of homelessness that is too narrow and doesn't count people who live in hotels on their own dime or people who double up with friends, he said.
Thirty-five percent of the state's homeless people live in Chittenden County, according to the survey. Ten percent are located in Rutland.
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