Survey Hopes Get Census of Homelessness In NJ [AUDIO]
A survey will attempt to count the state's homeless population, living both in shelters and outdoors.
NJ Counts is the annual "Point in Time" survey mandated from every state by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Tallying was conducted Jan. 28 and 29 in various locations in all of the state's 21 counties. Monarch Housing Associates coordinated the study, working with local county social service organizations, outreach groups and volunteers to collect the info.
The 2013 Point in Time survey found 11,818 homeless men, women and children living in the state - a slight increase from the previous year.
While nationally the homeless numbers are decreasing, the trend is different for New Jersey.
"Because we have such a high cost of living and a lack of jobs that pay a living wage, we have a lack of affordable housing, so we continue to see high numbers of homelessness," said Kate Kelly, associate with Monarch Housing Associates.
Previous surveys found the vast majority of the state's homeless live in shelters, 1,271 (15.8%) were unsheltered and 6,731 (84.1%) were sheltered. The largest percentage of the homeless population was living in emergency shelter on the night of the count (40.6%).
Those living in shelters will be counted through shelter records, however there is more difficulty counting homeless individuals living outdoors.
Kelly said Monarch works with individual groups who identify homeless communities in their areas and reaches out to them.
"These folks generally know where people are, so if there are folks outside on a very cold night, they would know where to find them," Kelly said.
Surveys handed out to homeless individuals have questions to eliminate being counted twice.
Ultimately the information will be used to identify the homeless population at a given time and help creating policies on how to resolve the problem.