Homelessness on the rise in Kent County

Patrick Cameron of the Servants Center tries to convince a group of homeless people to go to a shelter to get out of the cold. (Nov. 16, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — New numbers show homelessness is at its highest level in years.

The Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness released its report on Tuesday showing a 15 percent increase in homelessness from last year.

On January 28, volunteers found 912 people without permanent housing in the area. Twenty-six of those people were sleeping in places “not fit for human habitation” when the temperature dropped to only 10 degrees.

The number of homeless people in Kent County is up from 793 in 2014 and 585 people in 2010.

Organizers believe several factors contributed to the higher number including improvement in counting, a significant increase in people temporarily housed while fleeing domestic violence and increased focus on veterans.

The data will eventually become part of an annual report to Congress on the effectiveness of the programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Tune into 24 Hour News 8 at 5:20 p.m. to hear from the program manager with the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness about what the numbers mean and how they are responding.

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