A recent report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), reported by the Seattle Times, found that those numbers are among the highest in the United States.
HUD will treat 2017 as a baseline year for purposes of tracking progress toward reducing youth homelessness. That, too, was an increase from the previous year. Of that, 542 were people with children, 106 were unaccompanied homeless youth, 205 were veterans and 182 were "chronically" homeless veterans.
Kizer attributed the homeless increase to a lack of affordable housing in Great Falls.
The overall homeless figure was down by 13 percent on a national scale since 2010 and the unsheltered number has dropped by 17 percent over that seven-year span, although some changes in methodology and definitions over the years can affect comparisons.
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Nationwide, the number of homeless military veterans went up 1.5 percent a year ago, and that group now makes up 9.1 percent of the total homeless population, according to the report.
Excluding these two areas, the estimated number of Veterans experiencing homeless in other parts of the nation decreased 3.1 percent since 2016.
- The number of unsheltered homeless individuals in 2017 ( 2,135 ) increased by 21.3 percent from 2016 and by 18.5 percent since 2010.
In fast-growing Seattle, the unsheltered population grew by 44 percent to almost 5,500 over the past two years. Homelessness among families with children declined 5.4 percent nationwide since 2016, local communities report the number of persons experiencing long-term chronic homelessness and veterans increased. "While we have made significant strides in reducing the number of individuals experiencing homelessness, we must remain committed to implementing strategies that make it a rare, brief and non-recurring event". However, Ashley said she has found that once people hear you are homeless, they tend to look down on you.
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Ashley agreed to share her story to let people know how quickly someone can find themselves without a place to live - and how devastating emotionally it can be.
- Most homeless persons, 8,541 ( or 79.1% ), were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while total 2,257 ( or 26.4% ), persons were unsheltered.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia reported decreases in homelessness between 2016 and 2017, HUD officials said. New York City reported a 4.1 increase, mostly among families in emergency shelters and transitional housing, HUD officials said.
Volunteers counted about 600 homeless military veterans.
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The number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined 5.4 percent since 2016 and 27 percent since 2010. HUD says Indiana's homeless veteran population has fallen 20 percent since 2010.