Facts & Statistics

Who are the homeless in Northeast Louisiana, the state and the nation?

NELA Housing Inventory Chart – A full listing of the housing available for the homeless in our region.

Here are some statistics- (Results of the Jan. 2014 point in time (one-day) count of the homeless in the 12 Northeastern LA Parishes)

Numbers shown for Ouachita Parish are estimates; the final tally is still being developed.

  • Total number of persons homeless on Jan.27: 220
    (167 in Ouachita Parish, others in rural parishes);
  • Number of homeless individuals: 101;
  • Number of homeless families (groups including children
    under 18): 45 families that included 118 individuals;
  • Number of homeless youth without an adult with them: 1;
  • Number living in temporary housing: 183
    (134 in Ouachita Parish, others in rural parishes);
  • Number living on streets: 37 (33 in Ouachita, others in rural parishes);
  • Number of homeless Veterans: 18
    (12 in temporary housing, 6 unsheltered) – 8.2% of total homeless population;
  • Number persons homeless in the 12-parish region because of:
    Domestic violence: 65 (29.5%)
    Chronic substance abuse: 23 (10.5%)
    Severe mental illness 34 (15.5%)
    Other 98 (44.5%)

How many of our homeless are:
Veterans: 18 or 8.2% of total homeless
Children under 18: 75 or 34.1% of total homeless
Families with children under 18: 46 families with 119 persons or 54.1% of total homeless

What does this mean about number of homeless each year?
Based on research, a local rule of thumb is used of ten times the number of point in time homeless are homeless each year = 2,200

Source: Northeast LA Housing and Supportive Services/HOME Source: Northeast LA Housing & Supportive Services/Home Coalition/Monroe-Northeast LA CoC – Monroe/Northeast LA CoC Point-in-Time Count survey of temporarily sheltered and street homeless conducted Jan. 27, 2014 and Point-in-Time Count survey of temporarily sheltered and street homeless conducted Feb. 25, 2013

Myths and facts about homelessness in NELA and beyond
Courtesy The Wellspring Housing & Supportive Services Program

Myth: People become homeless because they can’t manage their money.
Fact: In Northeast Louisiana, as nationally, there are a variety of reasons why people become homeless. For example, an illness can lead to job loss and debt, which can in turn lead to getting behind on rent payments, thus resulting in eviction. In NELA, in a January 2008 survey of homeless persons who reported a reason for their homelessness, 30.5% said severe mental illness, 23% chronic substance abuse and 30% domestic violence. (NELA Homeless Coalition, Jan. 2008)

Myth: People who are homeless want to be that way.
Fact: Few (2.7%) of the homeless are that way by choice. (Snow, Anderson, 1993)

Myth: Charitable groups will take care of the homeless.
Fact: The needs of the homeless far exceed the capacity of charitable/non-profit groups. (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2008) In NELA as elsewhere, demand always exceeds supply for subsidized housing and services of homeless assistance providers. Here a minority of the homeless being served by homeless programs receive any type of public assistance. A Jan. 2008 survey showed the top three benefits received by the homeless were food stamps (35%), SSI (10%), and Medicaid (14%). (NELA Homeless Coalition, 2008)

Myth: Homeless people are mostly single men.
Fact: Research indicates that nationwide 37% of the homeless are families with children. (2007 Homeless Assessment Report, U.S. HUD) In NELA, 60.5% of the homeless are families with children. (NELA Homeless Coalition, Jan. 2008) A typical family in a homeless shelter is a mother and two or three children. (2007 AHAR)

Myth: Establishing homeless services will cause more people to migrate to an area
Fact: Homeless people usually move to find work or because they have friends or family in an area—not because of the homeless services. (Burt, 1997; NLCHP, 2002)

Myth: They’re to blame for being homeless.
Fact: Homeless people are more often victims of some sort of abuse or violence (30%) or a disabling illness or condition (53%). (NELA Homeless Coalition, 2008)

Myth: It is easy to recognize homeless people.
Fact: A large percentage (60.5%) of the homeless population in NELA are working parents with children. (NELA Homeless Coalition, 2008) It is impossible to identify them as “homeless” by sight because they are typically working in low-income jobs and their children are in school during the day. At night they sleep in vehicles, garages or motels. Many move daily from house to house not knowing who will allow them to sleep on their floor or sofa that night. (The Wellspring Home at Last Program, 2008)

Myth: Homeless people are dangerous.
Fact: In general, the homeless are among the least threatening group in our society and are more likely to be victims of crime themselves. (Natl. Coalition for the Homeless, 2008) Although they are more likely to commit non-violent crimes and non-destructive crimes, they are less likely to commit crimes against person or property. (American Society of Criminology, 2007) In recent years, many cities have made being homeless a crime, by passing measures that target homeless people by making it illegal to perform life-sustaining activities like sleeping, camping, eating or begging in public. (NCH, 2008)

Myth: Homeless people don’t work.
Fact: The working poor make up a significant portion of the homeless — 17.4% of homeless families and 13% of homeless individuals. (U.S. Confr. of Mayors, 2007) In NELA in January 2008, 23.8% of those served by homeless programs reported income from employment. Poverty and homelessness are inextricably linked. The working poor typically have very low paying jobs that put housing out of reach for many workers. On average, a minimum-wage worker would have to work 87 hours each week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at 30% of his or her income, which is the federal definition of affordable housing. (Natl. Coalition for the Homeless, 2008)

Myth: Homeless people are mentally ill or substance abusers.
Fact: In NELA, in a January 2008 survey of homeless persons, 30.5% reported a severe mental illness and 23% chronic substance abuse. (NELA Homeless Coalition, Jan. 2008) Between 10% and 20% suffer both disorders. (SAMSA, NLCHP, 2002)

Read the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development’s 2014 Annual Homelessness Assesssment Report to Congress (issued October 2014)

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