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Homelessness in Prince William by the Numbers

Prince William County's homeless population rose by 38 percent in 2011.

Prince William County’s emergency winter shelter for the homeless , at a time when the county has the D.C. area’s highest rate of unsheltered homeless, according to an annual study.

The 2011 Count of Homeless Persons published in May by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments found that 46 percent of homeless people in Prince William County are “unsheltered.” That is by far the highest percentage among the nine Washington-area jurisdictions that receive federal Continuum of Care grants. Arlington County had the second highest rate, with 30 percent of the homeless population being unsheltered.

Prince William County also experienced the most growth in its homeless population from 2010 to 2011. The number of homeless in the county grew from 488 in 2010 to 675 in 2011, a 38 percent increase.

The MWCOG study found that the increase in Prince William County was due to the higher number of families experiencing homelessness: 142, up from 100 families in 2010. The study’s authors said that the national economy was a large factor, as well as the exhaustion of federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing funds.

Families who “timed out” of HPRP funds found it more difficult to keep paying rent, the study found, meaning that more families were forced into homelessness. The study also noted that 230 families currently receive HPRP funds from the county, and when those funds expire, the homelessness situation could worsen.

Prince William County had more homeless families than any regional jurisdiction except for the District of Columbia and Fairfax County, according to the report.

Some other key points from the study:

  • The county had 87 single adults who met criteria to be considered “chronically homeless,” and 11 families were chronically homeless. That is more chronically homeless families than any other jurisdiction except for D.C.
  • Of the 11 chronically homeless families in Prince William County, eight were unsheltered. No other jurisdiction in the region had unsheltered chronically homeless families.
  • The number of homeless single adults dropped 27 percent from 2007 to 2011, but the number of homeless people in families rose 34 percent.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of homeless adults in families in Prince William County were employed (compared to 38 percent regionally). Only 20 percent of homeless single adults were employed, matching the regional average.
  • The largest “subpopulations” of homeless in Prince William County: chronic substance abuse (47), domestic violence victim (40), military veterans (40), mental illness (33), physical disability (21).
  • Nine homeless adults were “dually diagnosed” with substance abuse and mental illness.

The report has been prepared annually since 2001. It is based on a one-day count of the homeless population in each of the nine jurisdictions in the Washington, D.C. region that receive federal Continuum of Care funds. The data for Prince William County include the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

The report defines the homeless as "People who reside in some form of emergency or transitional shelters, domestic violence shelters, runaway youth shelters, and places not meant for human habitation, which include streets, parks, alleys, abandoned buildings, and stairways."

The 2011 count was conducted on January 26. The next count of the homeless population will take place in January, 2012.

boseamus November 08, 2011 at 12:12 AM
There is little in the way of affordable housing in the county. Single occupancy housing is a humane and altogether reasonable solution to much homelessness. What political party would support such?
Juan Martinez November 09, 2011 at 08:15 PM
Congratulations for this great and detailed article Mr. Curby. The ongoing problem of homelessness in the County, needs voices that put the issue on the publices awerness eye.
Nathan Curby November 09, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Thanks for the comments! What do you think can and should be done differently to address the problem of homelessness in this area?
Juan Martinez November 10, 2011 at 08:09 PM
More leadership form the County to form a commission to study possible solutions. There are nonprofit organizations, volunteers groups and churches that are ready to help and in fact, already helping the homeless as much as they can. Each case needs to be studied in individual basis. I don’t mean that the County has to come up with all the resources, but it should sponsor the initiatives for a comprehensive process to begin and fund more social workers and some matter experts to work with the volunteers organizations that wish to assist.
Tim Day December 05, 2011 at 04:28 PM
StreetLight Community Outreach: http://thestreetlight.org is one nonprofit organization that is working with our homeless, including those "chronically" so. It is easier to get involved in the solution than many people realize.
Kevin M. Raymond February 16, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Yes, Mr. Martinez is on the right track. We need more reporting of this serious problem and especially for our veterans. They certainly deserve a roof over their heads and a pathway to a career/trade thru education and training....
Lizzie M. Johnson February 17, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Until Prince William County Leaders stop putting their head in the sand and prentending this is not happening homeliness will continue to grow. We don't need any one else to come and continue to count homeless people and tell them what the percentage is because we see it every day, It is known all over America that Prince William county is one of the richest counties in america.so what is this telling us? Buildings are continueing to go up all over Prince William County but I haven't seen anything happening with low income housing, Seniors affordable apartments or anything for the homeless. I thank ACTS, Hilda Barg and the Winter Shelter for what they are doing but it can't stop there. I often get correspondence from Va. Coalition to End Homelessness out of Richmond and they have counties in Northern Va. work with this Homlessnes problem that is out of control but Prince Wiilliam County was not on the list. It wouldn't hurt if some one Contact them to find out if they have some insight or suggestions about this problem. Their web site is www.vceh.org Thank You

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