Increased Homelessness in Champaign County Shows Importance of Recent Investments in Homeless and Housing Services
A total of 215 individuals were identified as homeless in Champaign County during the most recent Point-in-Time (PIT) count, an increase of 78 from the 137 individuals identified through the count in January 2022. The count was conducted by the Continuum of Services Providers to the Homeless (CSPH) on January 26, 2023, with more than 40 volunteers split into teams to locate people experiencing homelessness in Champaign County.
The number of individuals identified as unsheltered in Champaign County also increased this year, from 2 in 2022 to 9 in 2023. The 215 total individuals were identified from 153 households (in 2022, 98 households were identified). Of those individuals, 170 were sheltered in emergency shelters and 36 in transitional housing. There were 32 individuals identified as chronically homeless. There were 49 children identified in the count.
“The mission of the CSPH is to end homelessness in Champaign County,” says CSPH Chair Breaden Belcher. “The data collected each year during the PIT count helps community stakeholders plan and coordinate effectively in order to achieve this goal. What this year’s data shows is that the recent investments in homeless and housing services are much needed.”
“The Point-in-Time count allows for local communities to collect data on homelessness,” says Continuum of Care Coordinator Katie Harmon. “While the data collected is very useful, it is important to keep in mind that it has its limitations as it is a snapshot of a specific date during the month of January.“
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires the PIT count annually in late January in order to provide a snapshot of the state of homelessness throughout the country. Congress then utilizes the data collected from the count to disseminate funds for homeless services. HUD sets the counts for winter to account for seasonal and overflow beds, as well as to facilitate deduplication between the sheltered and unsheltered counts. HUD does not fund the coordination of counts outside of the last 10 days of January.
With the assistance of community volunteers, CSPH, a consortium of agencies and governmental units committed to ending homelessness in Champaign County, conducted the count blitz-style concurrent to counts of people in emergency shelters to reduce duplication. Working in teams, the volunteers searched the community for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and gathered information about their housing situations. PIT focuses on, but is not exclusive to, known locations of people experiencing homelessness as identified by people experiencing homelessness, CSPH partners, law enforcements, and others.
The count included people both sheltered (residing in emergency shelters or transitional housing for individuals experiencing homelessness) and unsheltered (living in spaces not meant for human habitation, such as cars or on the street).
Concurrent to the PIT count, the Continuum also counted housing for people experiencing homelessness through the Housing Inventory Count (HIC), which tracks housing projects that are exclusive to people experiencing homelessness, as defined by HUD. Mostly as a result of the addition of the STRIDES emergency shelter, the HIC identified an increase in emergency shelter for individuals. Rapid rehousing beds for single person households also increased, but transitional housing beds for single person househoulds decreased. All housing types increased from 2022 to 2023 for households with children. Overall, there was an increase in the number of beds for households with children. Permanent supportive housing beds for households with children also increased from 2022 to 2023.
Completed annually, these counts help local homeless service providers track progress towards ending homelessness in our community by measuring the effectiveness of existing services and identifying additional approaches for shelter and housing options.
About the Champaign County Continuum of Service Providers to the Homeless
The Champaign County Continuum of Service Providers to the Homeless (CSPH) is a consortium of 44 non-profit and government agencies, faith-based organizations, and businesses committed to ending homelessness in Champaign County. CSPH welcomes new members, including agencies, faith-based groups, businesses, and interested community members searching for rewarding volunteer opportunities. The Continuum meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 3pm. Those interested in joining can contact Katie Harmon at 217-239-5942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.