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Homeless survey results aim to help Skid Row's most vulnerable find housing

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, March 01, 2013, at 09:32AM
Hayley Fox/blogdowntown

Annabelle Rosborough interviewed Edward Potts during the "vulnerability survey" conducted on Skid Row homeless last month. Data from those interviews has been used to identify the area's chronically homeless.

Skid Row has been in the news a lot lately, from a tuberculosis "outbreak" to possible Supreme Court involvement, but last night at the Union Rescue Mission the focus was on long-term goals to get the homeless, housed.

Organizers of the Skid Row homeless count and survey gathered on Thursday to discuss the results of their three-night effort to gather information about the area's homeless.

This "vulnerability survey" was conducted last month and resulted in information from 532 people on Skid Row. With this data, a coalition of missions and service providers in the area will identify the most at-risk transients and work to find them housing first. Organizers have identified the most vulnerable Skid Row residents as being:

  • At least 60 years old
  • HIV positive or living with AIDS
  • Being hospitalized or using Emergency Room services at least three times in the last year
  • Chronically homeless for a 10 year period or longer

They have also defined "chronic homelessness" as being "an unaccompanied individual who has been homeless for one continuous year or longer, or has had at least three episodes of homelessness in the past three years."

More than half of the people surveyed are considered chronically homeless. Some of the most extreme cases include a 57-year-old man who has been homeless for 30 years, and a 45-year-old woman who has been homeless for 30 years.

Survey results also included people's ages, mental health and substance abuse issues, and whether they were veterans or grew up in foster care.

But one of the most significant findings showed that there were more emergency room visits than people; there were a total of 550 ER visits in the last three months according to survey-takers, and a total of 771 inpatient hospitalizations over the past year.

Now the coalition of service providers are using photos and information from the survey to track down the people they've identified as the most vulnerable, and work to get them housed. The goal is to house more than 1,500 of the most at-risk, chronically homeless people by 2015.

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