CONCORD - The number of homeless in New Hampshire has increased to 2,576 people, up six percent over last year, according to the state Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services (BHHS).
A "Point-in-Time" count was done Jan. 23, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. and targeted city/town welfare offices, homeless shelters, hospitals, police departments, soup kitchens, food pantries, outreach workers and other organizations serving homeless people across the state.
Last year when the count was done, there were 2,438 people with no homes. This year, an additional 138 people are without a permanent residence. This year's count showed 1,243 people were in shelters, down 9 percent from 2012; 442 were unsheltered, up 17 percent; 891 individuals were temporarily doubled up (temporarily living with family or friends, a 20 percent increase over 2012); and 418 were families, an increase of 3 percent over last year.
Of the 1,520 adults surveyed, 37 percent said they had severe and persistent mental illness; 533 or 35 percent reported substance-abuse issues; 11 percent (165) were veterans, and 32 percent (481) were chronically homeless.
"It is troubling to see the rise in the number of people who do not have a place to call home," said state Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. "This data underscores the need for us to continue to work together to find solutions to end homelessness, especially in a time of limited resources as there are far too many individuals and families that do not have a permanent place to live."
Close to half the homeless - 47 percent or 1,215 people - reside in Hillsborough County, the state's largest county and home to the two largest cities, Manchester and Nashua, according to the count.
BHHS coordinates the homeless count to gather accurate and unduplicated numbers. BHHS receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires the count to identify the needs of the homeless, both living in shelters and on the streets.