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Mecklenburg survey: Number of homeless has dropped

A three-day survey conducted late last month by a coalition of social services agencies has found that the number of homeless people living on the streets in Mecklenburg County has decreased over the past year.

Leaders of the survey, conducted across Mecklenburg County, released results Friday and said they found 171 homeless people living outdoors. That compared with 283 in a study last year and 314 in a survey four years ago.

“Our methodology has changed, but we believe the survey has found a decrease in the number of homeless,” said Liz Clasen-Kelly, a leader of the Point In Time Count. “We know 171 is too many, but we are making progress.”

Volunteers from a variety of organizations fanned out across county, checking at reported campsites of the homeless. Clasen-Kelly said a number of those sites were vacant but she said bitter cold (temperatures were in the teens) probably sent some of the homeless to shelters.

“We plan to do another survey when the weather warms up,” she said.

Pamela Jensen of the nonprofit Supportive Housing Communities was among those who conducted interviews. She said the decreased number of homeless is a sign that progress is being made.

“Credit for that goes to the volunteers in the community who have targeted the homeless and are providing help,” she said.

Another volunteer, Doug Macomb from Hands on Charlotte, said he interviewed seven homeless people in northwest Mecklenburg County.

“I believe most of those people could probably get into supportive housing, with some coaxing,” he said, adding that some of those he interviewed were holding down jobs.

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