Latest homeless numbers may lie

Published April 24, 2007

TAMPA - Although volunteer census takers found 1,491 fewer homeless people this year than two years ago - the last official count - they reported about 660 more women and girls.

The total count this year was 9,532. Rayme L. Nuckles, chief executive officer for the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, said Hillsborough ranks near the top in the number of homeless compared with other counties in Florida.

"Whether there are 11,000 or 100 homeless in our community, it is too many," said Lesa Weikel, a Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County spokeswoman. "No one should be homeless in our community."

Nuckles said that agencies providing services to the homeless haven't seen a drop in demand.

Another blip in this year's data showed that fewer people reported having a source of income. Weikel said the coalition doesn't know why.

The numbers came from counting people found living on the street or in shelters, figures from the Department of Children and Families, the school district and people in jail who said they have no home when they get out.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires agencies that receive federal funds for homeless programs to do a census every two years. The Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County expects $3.8-million from HUD this year.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story.