BPHC logoMayor Thomas M. Menino today released the results of the 33rd Annual Homeless Census, conducted by city officials, community leaders, and more than 350 volunteers. On the night of the census, December 12, 2012, there were 6,992 homeless men, women, and children living in shelters, on the street, and in transitional or residential treatment programs in Boston, representing a 5.2 percent increase from the 2011 census.

“While the number of homeless individuals living on the streets is lower here in Boston than in other major cities, there’s still an urgent need,” Mayor Menino said. “We’ve made real strides in housing chronically homeless adults and families in Boston, and it’s more important than ever that we are aggressive in helping people build better lives.”

Under the leadership of Mayor Menino, city agencies and non-profit partners have worked successfully to reduce chronic homelessness and to better address transitional and permanent housing, specialized health care, behavioral health counseling, case management, and career counseling for homeless individuals and families.  The Boston Housing Authority and the Department of Neighborhood Development have been close partners with the Boston Public Health Commission’s Homeless Services bureau in this work. The collaborative efforts include:

  • Linking Treatment to Housing: More than 180 homeless adults with substance abuse and mental health disorders have received supported housing through the BHA.
  • Home for the Holidays: Launched by Mayor Menino in December 2011, this initiative provides housing subsidies and stabilization services to families living in shelters. Working with the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, 367 units of housing have been leased to families through the program, which aims to serve 500 families. Thirty-three families with vouchers are currently working with officials to find housing.
  • The BHA in conjunction with the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership also made 200 additional units of public housing available to homeless Boston families.  To date, 137 families have received housing, case management, and stabilization services through this effort, and 39 families are in the process of receiving support.

“We can’t afford to let politics get in the way of progress. Automatic spending cuts represent a major setback for cities across the country,” Mayor Menino said.

The Mayor was referring to sequestration, which took effect Saturday and brings about harmful reductions in federal funding.  The White House recently estimated that 125,000 low-income families nationwide could lose rental assistance as a result of the cuts, which would place them at immediate risk of losing their permanent housing.  Another 100,000 formerly homeless individuals would be removed from their current housing and emergency shelter programs, putting them at risk of returning to the streets.

Data from Boston’s 2012 Homeless Census showed that:

  • The number of individual homeless adults increased 4.8 percent, from 3,412 last year to 3,577 this year.
    • The number of individual homeless adults living on the streets on the night of December 12, 2012 was 193, 12 more people than the previous year’s count showed.
    • The number of individual homeless adults in emergency shelter was up 6.4 percent, from 1,285 last year to 1,367       this year.
    • The number of individual homeless adults in transitional housing, residential treatment programs, domestic violence shelters, or other programs increased 3.6 percent, from 1,946 last year to 2,017 this year.
  • The number of homeless families in Boston increased 7.8 percent from 1,082 to 1,166 households this year. Once again, officials did not find any homeless families living on the street.
  • The total number of people in homeless families increased by 5.6 percent, from 3,235 to 3,415.
  • The number of homeless children increased by 2.2 percent, from 1,928 to 1,971this year.

In addition, this year’s effort included a first-ever Youth Count, which identified 191 unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults across multiple service sites in Boston over seven nights. More data will be released as this service-based enumeration of unaccompanied young adults is analyzed.

“We know that about 33 percent of all our emergency shelter guests came from outside of Boston. Unfortunately, this suggests an unmet need for emergency shelter in our region, an especially pressing concern given the harsh winter we are experiencing,” said Jim Greene, director of the Emergency Shelter Commission. “The good news is that access to residential substance abuse treatment is improving and providing critical recovery support services for homeless adults with addiction illnesses. We have also seen 68 percent of clients in transitional housing programs obtain permanent housing in the past year.”

Click here for complete results from the 2012 Homeless Census.