There is good news in the battle against homelessness in the Garden State. The number of people without a place to live has dropped almost 14 percent since last year, according to the latest "snapshot" count.  

A homeless person bundles against the cold. (John Moore, Getty Images)

The NJ Counts 2015 homeless survey finds there was a 21 percent decrease in the number of homeless families. The count looked at those who were staying in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs, those that are unsheltered on the street on the night of the count and those also that are staying in safe havens.

Kaitlyn Cunningham of Monarch Housing Associates in Cranford says many counties are improving their effort to reduce the homeless population.

"They  are doing a better street outreach, and are able to count their unsheltered numbers a little bit better," she said. "There has been a large push across the state to kind of use some best practices, such as housing first, rapid rehousing, which really focuses on moving households into permanent housing."

Two New Jersey counties account for almost 30 percent of the state's homeless population. Essex County once again had the highest percentage, almost 17 percent, followed by Burlington county with just over 13 percent.  In addition, the year-over-year decrease is not just a fluke. While some of the numbers in the individual locations have fluctuated, the overall percentage of total homeless that are counted has continually decreased since 2011.

But the overall number of homeless people in New Jersey is still above the 10,000 mark, more than 10 percent of them young adults between 18 and 24 years old.

According to a press release from Kate Kelly of Monarch Housing Associates, other key findings of the report include the following:

  • 1,425 people were identified as chronically homeless, showing a slight decrease of 74 people, or 4.9 percent;
  • 974 people are living un-sheltered, showing a slight increase of 43 people, or 4.6 percent.