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Homelessness in Missouri down overall, yet rose in St. Louis County

The number of individuals who have experienced homelessness in Missouri has dropped in recent years, according to a new study from the Missouri Housing Development Commission

The 112-page study, done in conjunction with the California-based Homebase organization, used data from the commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to show how the “homelessness system has developed in recent years” in Missouri. The 2019 Missouri Statewide Homelessness Study covered 2014-2018. 

Missouri saw an overall decrease in homelessness during that time period — down 18 percent. The study estimated 5,883 individuals were homeless in 2018 compared to 7,186 people in 2014. 

But while the overall number of homeless families and veterans decreased during that time, Missouri saw an increase among unaccompanied youth, reported domestic violence, and chronic homelessness. 

According to the study, the number of unaccompanied homeless youths increased by 13 percent to 535 people. Of those, only 23 percent were less than 18 years old. Additionally, the number of people who reported domestic violence, in relation to homelessness, increased 47 percent: from 691 individuals in 2014 to 1,018 in 2018. 

2019 Missouri Statewide Homelessness Study

The median length of homelessness was 33.3 days in 2018, according to the study. 

Additionally, 10 percent of those in emergency shelters, 6 percent of those in transitional housing, and 3 percent of those in permanent housing returned to homelessness in 2018, the study said.

The number of people who utilized shelters or other types of temporary housing for the first time has also decreased: 9,196 people in 2018 from 13,100 in 2015.

Breaking it down by regions

Aside from statewide statistics, the study also took a look at different Continuum of Care (CoC) regions: St. Louis County; the city of St. Louis; St. Charles, Warren, and Lincoln counties; Greene, Christian, and Webster counties; Jasper and Newton counties; Andrew, Buchanan, and Dekalb counties (the St. Joseph area); Jackson and Wyandotte counties (the Kansas City area); and the rest of Missouri. 

All regions saw a decrease in homelessness except for St. Louis County and the St. Joseph region. While the latter remained relatively stable with a slight 2 percent increase, St. Louis County reported a 12 percent increase in overall homelessness. 

2019 Missouri Statewide Homelessness Study

St. Louis County saw a 22 percent increase in sheltered homelessness, whereas it had a 53 percent decrease in unsheltered homelessness. The number of unaccompanied homeless youth jumped 113 percent, with 34 percent of those younger than 18. 

In the city of St. Louis, overall homelessness decreased by nearly 25 percent, the study said. However, the number of people who reported domestic violence experiences jumped by 193 percent. 

2019 Missouri Statewide Homelessness Study

In the Kansas City region, total homelessness is down 15 percent from 2014 — but it has been steadily rising since 2015. Family and chronic homelessness, too, have increased during that time.

More women than men were homeless in 2018 in St. Louis County as well as the St. Charles, Warren, and Lincoln CoC. 

Veteran homelessness 

Veteran homelessness decreased 22 percent throughout the state, from 652 veterans in 2014 to 507 in 2018, the study said. 

However, it increased in the CoCs of St. Charles, Warren, and Lincoln counties as well as Jasper and Newton counties.

A decrease in veteran homelessness would follow national trends. HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced the decline this week as the nation as “made great progress in our efforts to end veteran homelessness.” 

HUD has estimated there are 488 homeless veterans in Missouri in 2019, including 95 who are unsheltered. That is nearly 36 percent lower than the number of homeless veterans in Missouri in 2010, according to HUD data. 

The Housing Development Commission study specifically pointed to the St. Joseph and Kansas City areas for making significant progress toward ending homelessness for veterans. 

Missouri Homelessness Study_Final Draft_10.28.19 by KaitlynSchallhorn on Scribd