St. Louis County Homeless Population Up 18% – Pre-COVID
The number of people in St. Louis County who are homeless is up, they're mostly un-sheltered - and this was prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These are the results being released from St. Louis County, stemming from their annual survey which is held in January.
The total number of homeless people in St. Louis County jumped 18% from 2019 to 2020. In addition, the number of those homeless who identified themselves as "un-sheltered" also rose. According to information released by St. Louis County:
"[T]he total number of individuals experiencing homelessness in 2020 is 612. That's an increase from 519 reported in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of individuals reported as unsheltered has increased dramatically, from 183 in 2019 to 284 in 2020."
County officials note that some of the increase could be due to a greater focus put on the survey this year. The 2020 count included expanded outreach and capacity compared to other years. Part of the greater focus included a larger number of volunteers and a greater number and variety of locations where the surveys were administered.
It's also worth noting that this survey - with the increases - represents numbers that were taken prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some at the county level wonder how the increased economic stresses from that fallout might affect those homeless numbers. According to Will Wilson, Continuum of Care Coordinator for St. Louis County:
"We need more resources to address every aspect of the problem. More emergency shelter space, more permanent supportive housing, and especially more affordable housing.”
The annual survey conducted by St. Louis County is important for a variety of reasons. The numbers derived from the count help define the scope and scale of the problem locally, and the data is used to determine federal funding awarded to fight homelessness.