A homeless person sleeps on the sidewalk along South Franklin Street on Friday, March 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

A homeless person sleeps on the sidewalk along South Franklin Street on Friday, March 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau’s homeless population dips slightly

Total is lowest since at least 2016

There are 25 fewer homeless people living in Juneau this year, according to an annual count of those on the streets.

It may not sound like a lot, but it’s actually the lowest the local homeless population has been since 2016, City and Borough of Juneau Housing and Homelessness Services Coordinator Irene Gallion said.

“It is nice to see the community’s investment in homelessness services apparently paying off,” Gallion told the Empire.

The City and Borough of Juneau’s Point in Time count showed 210 people who were on the street, in emergency shelters or in transitional housing, according to a CBJ release. That’s down 25 people from the 235 homeless people counted in 2018. The totals in 2017 and 2016 were 215 and 211, respectively.

The 32 residents of the Juneau Housing First facility — which provides an apartment for the city’s most vulnerable residents — are considered permanently housed, so are not included in the PIT count. If the Housing First residence did not exist, the PIT count would likely include about 32 more individuals. That project is set to double in size next year, with construction starting soon on the second phase.

The city’s release only included data from 2016 to present. Gallion said the Point in Time count has been done since 2010, but 2016 was the first year that the state had a more robust set of steps to ensure the accuracy of the count.

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The annual count was done on Jan. 22, and involves volunteers going around and counting people one by one. The count isn’t perfect, Gallion said in the release, saying that the count doesn’t always pick up all of the unsheltered people or homeless young people.

Bradley Perkins, the general Manager at St. Vincent de Paul in Juneau, said the Point in Time count results don’t feel particularly significant. He said Housing First has “taken a tremendous load” off homeless services in town, and called it “tremendously successful.”

Still, he said, there will always be waiting lists for homeless people to get into housing. He said that during the count this year, there were a lot of new faces, which was encouraging to him. He said he hopes that means that many of the people who were in the count last year but weren’t in the count this year were able to find housing.

The Point in Time Count is required by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Communities that receive certain HUD funding for homelessness conduct the count in January of each year.

Emergency sheltering is provided by the Glory Hall, Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE) and Juneau Youth Services. Transitional housing is provided by Saint Vincent de Paul, AWARE, Gastineau Human Services and Juneau Youth Services. Transitional housing is meant to provide a more stable environment than emergency shelters while an individual pursues permanent housing.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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