Connecticut's homeless population dipped in 2010 compared with the previous year, according to a new report Tuesday, but state advocates for the homeless question the data and say they are not seeing any significant improvement in the number of people without housing.
The annual report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which examined the nation and all 50 states, found that the number of homeless in Connecticut in 2010 fell to 4,316, down 6.3 percent from 4,605 in 2009.
Nationally, the homeless population rose 1.1 percent to 649,917 in 2010, up from 643,067 a year earlier, according to the HUD report.
The statistics in the HUD report are based on a survey of homeless people on one night in January throughout the state and across the country.
Carol Walter, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness cautioned that her group isn't seeing shelter counts dropping. More troubling, she said, the coalition has seen a 30 percent increase in those categorized as "unsheltered" — those living outside or in abandoned buildings — between 2009 and 2011.
Overall, she said, "It [homelessness] has not gone down in any statistically relevant way," Walter said.
Unemployment still remains high in Connecticut, at 9.1 percent. Borrowers who are seriously delinquent on their home loans remain a concern, though the numbers of troubled mortgages have fallen below record highs.
Walter estimates that 40,000 households in the state are doubled up because someone has lost their housing.
"It is very difficult to get back into housing once you are out of it," Walter said.
Walter acknowledged that the homeless population could be much larger in Connecticut and elsewhere, however, if it weren't for federal economic stimulus programs.
Between 2007 and 2010, the homeless population in Connecticut, fell 3.7 percent compared with a 3.3 percent drop for the nation over the same period.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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