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Homelessness Down Nationwide, Up In NJ [AUDIO]

Homeless march in Lakewood
Tom Mongelli/Townsquare Media NJ

A nationwide report shows the number of homeless fell 1% over the last two years, but homeless advocates say things are actually getting worse.

According to the “State of Homelessness 2012″ report, New Jersey saw an increase in homelessness by about 7% or roughly a 1,000 more people between 2009 and 2011.

Bill Southry, president of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, says there is no average homeless person these days.

“We have senior citizens here on fixed incomes, we have mothers and children coming from domestic violence backgrounds and then we have people who are here because of substance abuse or mental health issues.”

This week, police and social workers will canvass New Jersey in search of the homeless for the annual “point in time” count.

“I’ve been here since 1987…and I can tell you that things are getting worse every year. Atlantic City has been dubbed a place where the ‘lights are always turned on’ and that rings true down here. We are also the only shelter in the area that provides temporary housing for people so we get more than the usual shelter” said Southry.

The Atlantic City Rescue Mission served over 3,000 homeless in 2011, an increase of 130 people in 2010.

“I hope things will improve this year….but that all depends on the governor and the legislature.”

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