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Number Of Hamilton County People Experiencing Homelessness Down In 2020

Jason Whitman
An unidentified person sleeps on the Serpentine Wall at Sawyer Point.

Hamilton County saw a decrease in overall numbers of people experiencing homelessness in 2020. Strategies to End Homelessness CEO Kevin Finn says the number of people on the streets and in shelters dropped 12.5% from 2019.

Numbers according to the Cincinnati/Hamilton County Homeless Management Information System:

  • 6,151 - total unduplicated people on the streets and in shelters; a 12.5% decrease from 2019
  • 5,642 - resided in emergency shelters; 92% of total population spent at least part of the year in shelter, a 15% decrease from 2019
  • 1,024 - unsheltered on the streets; 16.6% of total population spent at least part of the year on street, a 22% increase from 2019
  • 515 - exclusively sleeping unsheltered on the streets, 8.4% percent of the unhoused population

"While there was an overall decrease, there was an increase in the number of people on the street because fewer people were able to get into the shelters," says Finn.
He says that's because of COVID-19 capacity restrictions, along with some hesitancy to go into congregate settings during the pandemic.

Finn says it's uncertain which factors led to the overall decrease in people experiencing homelessness. He expects the eviction moratorium and an infusion of CARES Act funds for various programs may have played a role. However, that means the 2020 numbers could be an anomaly and we might not see a repeat in 2021.

"We're just now getting to the point where you would normally in an economic downturn see the homeless numbers go through the roof," says Finn. "That could still be coming, unfortunately. It normally takes 12 to 24 months before the numbers go up."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.