Homelessness in Topeka continues to rise

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) --- The latest City of Topeka point-in-time survey shows the number of homeless individuals continuing to rise.

In all, 441 people were found to be experiencing homelessness on January 23, the day of the count. That number’s up 22 from last year’s count and nearly 25% higher than two years ago, when 356 individuals were found. The number of those who are chronically homeless is higher, going from 119 in the count two years ago to 181 this year.

City officials and community leaders use the count to decide how to allocate their services. The count is also used to raise awareness about homelessness in the community. To complete the survey 43 people, including 23 volunteers, participated in the count.

“We want to thank all the volunteers who helped us with the count and who are helping to make our community better,” Housing Services Division Director Corrie Wright said.

On the night of the survey, during which temperatures dipped into the teens, 70% stayed at emergency shelters. The rest were split evenly between transitional housing and not having any shelter at all.

Nearly half of the homeless people included in the survey - 212 of 441 - suffered from serious mental illnesses, the report showed. That’s 51 more individuals than the count two years ago. And, while the number of domestic violence victims went up from 34 to 49, it’s down from 93 recorded two years ago.

Of the total number of homeless, 314 of them live by themselves. Thirty-five households that included children were counted. Of that, 69 were children under eighteen.