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Point-in-Time 2014 Results

2014 PIT Tables

We are excited to share the results from the 2014 Point-in-Time study that was conducted in January. For a .PDF file of the data table and interpretation of results, click here.

We would like to extend a thank you, once again, to friends who conducted interviews with us this year as well as community members who have been involved with One Roof in the past.  Collecting this data cannot happen without you!  Make sure that when you’re reviewing the table you pay attention to the “unsheltered” count.  Point-in-Time volunteers are responsible for the total unsheltered count in our area!  Thank you for reaching out to 414 unsheltered individuals in our community so that we can better understand how to help.

The data in the table above gives a snapshot of who was homeless on any given night in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 in Jefferson, Shelby, and St. Clair counties of Alabama.  The Total numbers are comprised of the sheltered and unsheltered numbers added together.  2014 results are highlighted in purple.

Please note that the sub-populations stand alone and do not represent additional people to those listed in theIndividualsTotal Persons in Families, or Total Personsrows.  Sub-population numbers represent every instance where the sub-population applied to an individual.Families are the number of homeless households we have seen with dependent children, and Total Persons in Families is the number of individuals belonging to those households.

This year 120 volunteers helped to conduct the Point in Time survey in the metropolitan Birmingham area.  This is the second year we were able to expand street counts to include parts of Woodlawn, Avondale, East Lake, West End, and other neighborhoods outside of downtown.  Volunteers are responsible for the total unsheltered count (31% of the total homeless population).

The sheltered numbers come directly from a database used by our service providers called PromisAL, which records services and acts as a tool to connect services in our homeless Continuum of Care.

Here are some highlights that we can see in this year’s data: 

  • Our count in January 2014 shows that overall homeless numbers have decreased by 140 individuals (a decrease of 10%) since January 2013.  From 2005 to 2014, there has been a decrease of 1,099 individuals (nearly a 55% decrease).
  • Homeless families (households) increased slightly this year from 2013 by 6%. There was a 35% decrease in the number of unsheltered families, but there was a 35% increase in families living in transitional housing.  This shows that in the past year, almost 1 to 1 those families have gotten into housing and are on their way to living a stable life in permanent housing.
  •  For someone to be chronically homeless, they must have experienced 4 or more episodes of homelessness within 3 years OR experienced continual homeless for 1 or more years AND have a mental or physical disability.  This population is the hardest to house and often the least likely to seek services.  Since 2009, we have seen a 51% decrease in the number of chronically homeless individuals in our community.
  •  Homeless veterans have been steadily decreasing over the past few years, and this year is no exception.  There is a national initiative to end veteran homelessness by 2015, and the good news is that all the hard work of our veteran’s agencies has brought us very close.  This year, there was a 10% decrease in the number of veterans experiencing homelessness, with the majority of those veterans (156 out of 174 total) in shelter rather than on the street.
  •  Despite slightly elevated numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS and experiencing homelessness, the overall number of these individuals has declined significantly since 2005, decreasing by 67%
  • Unfortunately, we have seen elevated sheltered, unsheltered, and total numbers of community members who are survivors of domestic violence and experiencing homelessness. Since 2013, the number of survivors of domestic violence experiencing homelessness has had a pronounced increase of nearly 46%.
  • We are also pleased to see a decrease, however small, in the number of people experiencing homelessness who suffer from chronic substance abuse.  However, we have also seen a 7% total increase in the number of people with a serious mental illness (395 in 2013 to 423 in 2014), with a 30% increase in the number of people with a serious mental illness who are unsheltered.

Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for improving our process next year, and thank you for your patience while waiting for the results.  Thank you for helping us to fulfill our mission to equip and empower our community to prevent and end homelessness through advocacy, education, and coordination of services.   Thank you for your work to improve the community we share.

We hope you have a great summer and that we’ll see you next year for PIT 2015!


Stacy Oliver
Community Outreach Coordinator
One Roof
stacy@oneroofonline.org

Youth Homelessness and Human Trafficking

On Monday, April 28, One Roof’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Stacy Oliver, and AmeriCorps Member, Josh Helms, attended The Civil Rights Act at 50: Education & Empowerment, A Conference on Civil Rights and Law Enforcement, at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. We listened to several excellent and informative presentations addressing the relationship between civil rights and law enforcement. During these sessions, we thought about the ways that these issues often impact someone’s housing status and ability to leave homelessness. We wanted to share some of what we learned at the conference about human trafficking as it relates to youth homelessness.

One presenter, Tanya Hallford, Former Assistant District Attorney in Baldwin County and Founder of Stop Sex Exploitation, opened a discussion about the importance of changing the way we think about girls and women who have been trafficked. Ms. Hallford noted that when a girl has experienced statutory rape, she’s considered a victim, but when a girl or woman is prostituted, community members might consider her a criminal rather than a victim or survivor. As Ms. Hallford said, the perception that girls and women want to be prostituted is not a reality. Girls and women who’ve been trafficked are vulnerable folks who’ve been exploited.

Human trafficking happens when people are struggling to meet their basic needs. When a human being is sold and trafficked, they are told that this way of life is mandatory. Someone who has no idea where they are, who they can trust, or how to care for themselves may feel that they can’t refuse what’s asked of them.  The consequences of saying “no” are often homelessness, violence, or even death. According to Ms. Hallford’s presentation, survivors of human trafficking are often shamed, blamed, or assessed as criminals in our own society, so some survivors might not come forward for help because they have come to see themselves as criminal.

During the presentation, we learned that people leaving a trafficking situation are truly vulnerable.  Like many people trying to rebuild their lives during or after a housing crisis, there are many obstacles for a survivor of human trafficking. For youth who have been trafficked, the formative years that they should have been learning life skills or growing their work or housing history have been taken away. Without these experiences and an adequate support network, youth have formidable barriers to navigating a safer, more self-reliant, and stable life and home outside of trafficking.  Most employers will judge potential employees who have no previous job experience, and most landlords who find out about a potential tenant’s background will have similar stigmas.

One Roof is particularly concerned with issues related to youth homelessness and human trafficking in Birmingham.  We learned that many adult women who are prostitutes were prostituted by someone they knew and trusted at a young age. According to FBI Special Agent Brian Ozden’s presentation on human trafficking and the Innocence Lost National Initiative, the majority of people trafficked for sex in the US are girls between the ages of 15 and 17. Ozden and other presenters discussed how Atlanta, Georgia is a major hub for human trafficking — not just in the United States, but internationally. Because of Birmingham’s proximity to Atlanta, and its comparable number of major interstate connections and location on the I-20 corridor, our community is a major (and growing) hub for human trafficking.

As a community, we must be sensitive to the needs, fears, and circumstances of survivors of human trafficking. We must also understand that human trafficking is directly linked to poverty and homelessness. One Roof believes that everyone experiencing homelessness or poverty deserves to be seen as an individual who is not to blame for their condition or circumstances — including people who have been trafficked. Ending homelessness and addressing this growing issue in Birmingham includes being aware of human trafficking and its consequences.

For more information on human trafficking and how individuals and agencies can help, check out these resources from the US Department of Health and Human Services, including an educational video.

 

Researching Best Practices in Homeless Services

My passion for serving those within our community who are experiencing homelessness began my freshman year of high school when I would serve meals to visitors of Church of the Reconciler. In this capacity, I was able to spend time with visitors, getting to know them and their experiences. Nonetheless, I failed to grasp the complexities of their needs. In the summer of 2010, I had the opportunity to work under Dr. Stefan Kertesz at the Veterans Health Administration, assisting him in his research to tailor healthcare services to the specific needs of people experiencing homelessness. During my tenure at the VA, I began to better understand the health needs of people experiencing homelessness and how decent, affordable housing can serve as the cornerstone to supporting proper health. In the summer of 2011, I completed a fellowship with Collaborative Solutions, Inc. There, I performed a wide variety of tasks from writing policy briefs to drafting needs assessment surveys, affording me the technical skills required to evaluate homelessness from a macro-level perspective. Overall, these experiences led me to pursue a masters in public health, a field that will provide me with the tools needed to evaluate the health needs of vulnerable populations, analyze effective interventions, and systematically change policies that will strengthen our communities.

A little over a year ago, I contacted Michelle (One Roof Executive Director) about the possibility of a summer internship. I had taken a year off after graduating college and wanted to get my feet wet in the homeless advocacy field before beginning my graduate degree. In an introductory meeting with Michelle, Nathan (PromisAL Program Coordinator), and Valerie (Administrative Coordinator), we decided that I could best serve One Roof by exploring, documenting, and reporting upon best practices in homeless service provision. At first, this seemed like a fairly simple task, considering my ignorance regarding the enormous complexities in preventing and ending homelessness. Nonetheless, as I delved deeper into the research, I began to understand the connecting points between services – services that range from health care and housing, to employment benefits and supplemental income benefits. Additionally, I learned about the tools designed to secure such benefits for clients, including vulnerability assessments and peer support specialists. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me! As time passed, however, I found it easier to narrow my research into three main components: best practices for continuum of care success, best practices for housing program success, and best practices for increasing economic security.

Breaking down these topics even further, I had the opportunity to explore different tools and programs that have proven successful in stabilizing clients, helping to reach those most vulnerable within our communities. I presented this research to One Roof member agencies and later to members of the Board. My research has led to the writing of a document which fully discusses each practice and provides examples of models utilized throughout the country and even internationally. It is my hope that agencies throughout central Alabama can adopt as many of these strategies as possible, modifying them to meet the specific needs of clients within our community.

John-Andrew Young is a life-long resident of Birmingham. He completed his undergraduate studies in political science at Birmingham-Southern College in 2012. In the fall of 2013, he began his masters in public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, concentrating in health policy analysis. His current focus as a masters student centers around policies that benefit the healthcare needs of individuals experiencing homelessness.  

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