The number of homeless people in Wichita without a place to sleep continues to rise, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development.
Homelessness is down in Kansas for the first time since 2008. But the previous six years of increased homelessness puts Kansas in the bottom third of states since 2007. While homelessness has fallen by almost 13 percent in the U.S. since 2007, it has increased in Kansas by 23 percent.
Fewer in shelters
The number and percentage of homeless in Sedgwick County without shelter has roughly doubled over the past eight years. About 100 homeless people, or 17 percent, lack shelter here.
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The increase in homeless people without shelter is almost entirely single individuals, not families. The 150 homeless family members, which make up about a quarter of the homeless in Wichita, all have shelter, according to the study.
Sedgwick County is one of the best counties in the nation for providing shelter to homeless family members, according to the new data, but is getting worse when it comes to providing shelter to homeless individuals.
Some homeless people are without shelter temporarily, and others are chronically homeless; the government defines this as those who are homeless for more than a year, or four times in the past three years.
But in Wichita the numbers of both chronic and temporary homeless people without shelter have been going up since 2008.
Although there was a small dip in the homeless population in Sedgwick County this year, from 631 to 561, it remains at near the highest level it’s been since the recession of 2008. It’s the third-highest total since 2007.
The percentage of homeless veterans in Kansas who don’t have a place to sleep has been rising slowly. In 2007, only 4 percent lacked shelter, but that has risen to 11 percent.
But the percentage of homeless veterans in Wichita is even higher. An average of about one in four of Wichita’s approximately 60 homeless veterans have lacked shelter over the past five years.
Homelessness has increased 22 percent in Kansas since 2007, putting it in the bottom third of states over that time. It is moving in the opposite direction of homelessness nationally, which has fallen by 13 percent.
The rise in homelessness has occurred among both individuals and families.
The state hasn’t had the same problems recently with finding shelter for its homeless. The percentage of homeless people in Kansas without shelter has actually been falling a little since 2007.
But the total number of homeless without shelter is also up because the overall number of homeless people is up.
In the state as a whole, the number of temporarily homeless people without shelter has been falling, while the number of the chronically homeless has been rising.