A New Report Says 4,400+ People in Maine Were Homeless in January
MaineHousing's latest report on homelessness shows a startling spike in numbers, due in part to the pandemic and inflation.
What is a PIT Study?
Each year, MaineHousing does a PIT study, which shows the number of people experiencing homelessness in a single night. The PIT, which stands for Point in Time, shows a snapshot of what the homeless population looks like, including people's ages, and how many are living in shelters. It's no surprise that the 2022 numbers went up, but the reality of those statistics is scary.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that the counts be done within the last 10 days of January, so this year's PIT count in Maine was held on January 25th. It included both sheltered and unsheltered populations and, for the first time ever, people who were staying in hotels funded by General Assistance and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
How Do the Numbers Break Down?
The findings are sobering:
- Persons in Shelters - 3,291
- Persons Unsheltered - 164
- Point-in-Time total - 3,455
- Add-in People in Transitional Housing - 956
- Final total - 4,411
Breaking it down a little further:
- People with at least one child - 1,543
- Unaccompanied Youth - 155 (147 were 18-24 years of age, while 8 were under 18)
And still further:
- Adults with a serious mental illness - 767
- Chronically homeless - 679
- Adults with substance use disorder - 425
- Adult survivors of domestic violence - 342
- Veterans - 196
When compared to the PIT results in 2019, which showed 1,215 people experiencing homelessness and 891 living in transitional housing, for a total of 2,106, the numbers are dispiriting. In 3 years the results have more than doubled due, at least in part, to the pandemic. Some people lost their jobs, while others were unable to access the counseling and services that they needed.
Is Anything Being Done to Help Get the Numbers Down?
Many Maine Municipalities are working to find solutions, but the need is overwhelming. State and municipal agencies are exploring ways to provide more affordable housing, including Governor Mills' recent initiatives that will build housing units in rural areas.