By the numbers: A quick look at the Ann Arbor area's homeless population

February 13, 2015
By Ryan Stanton

A much-anticipated report was released this week, offering a new snapshot of the Ann Arbor area's homeless population.

It shows 387 people were found experiencing homelessness in Washtenaw County on Jan. 28, a figure down 24 percent from the last point-in-time count in 2013.

Community leaders consider it a sign that strategies being implemented, such as new rapid re-housing units for families, are working. And they're hopeful with additional resources and federal assistance, including rental vouchers for veterans, they'll continue making meaningful progress on addressing homelessness.

But the report also highlights challenges the community still faces with getting particularly vulnerable populations into stable housing.

That includes homeless people with chronic health conditions, mental disorders and substance abuse problems -- and in some cases, all three.

The new report looks at those issues in different ways, and it should be noted there actually are two different sets of data being reported. That's because there were two simultaneous efforts underway on Jan. 28.

First, there was a point-in-time count mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and that count, done every two years on a single day, looks at very narrowly defined and documented data points.

In addition to the HUD-mandated count, a more in-depth survey of homeless individuals, essentially a census, was done as part of Zero: 2016, a national campaign in which Washtenaw County is participating with a goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.

The report from the county that was released on Monday shows results from the point-in-time count toward the beginning, with the latter part showing data from the Zero: 2016 survey, which actually was implemented starting in August and includes self-reported data from the homeless that isn't included in the HUD-mandated count.