ROANOKE, Va. – Homelessness is on the rise in Virginia.
Newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found a 3% increase from 2019 to 2020 for those experiencing homelessness on a single night.
Nationally, it’s up 2.2%; however, in the Roanoke Valley trends are plunging.
Homelessness dropped 13.5% since 2019 and 50.8% since 2012.
“Really focus on who we’re targeting with those resources, I think has really had an impact,” said Roanoke City’s Human Services Administrator Matt Crookshank.
He said the city’s focused on prevention and rapid exits to permanent housing by working with 211 and a central intake program.
“We try to target financial assistance to those folks who, without any type of intervention, would be in a shelter bed,” said Crookshank.
Since the data is collected every January, the latest 2020 numbers don’t reflect the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crookshank said that nationally homelessness may spike, but in the Roanoke Valley, it might not be as bad as you’d expect.
“A lot of folks are struggling, obviously, but we’ve done the best we can to try to connect folks with resources to minimize the number of folks that have to go into congregate shelters during the pandemic. So I’m optimistic about kind of the direction we’re headed as a community,” said Crookshank.