Annual survey tracks rise in rates of homelessness in Ada County
According to an annual survey, homelessness rates in Ada County are on the rise, paralleling the region's growing housing crisis.
The Point in Time count, or PIT count, tracks the number of people sleeping outside or in a shelter nationwide on one given day in January. In 2022, the number of folks experiencing homelessness in Ada County was 620. This year that number rose to 687, a more than 10% increase.
While overall rates of homelessness are lower today than they were a decade ago, local agencies have seen a rise in families and individuals reaching out for help.
“That number has been growing almost exponentially over the last two years,” said Casey Mattoon, manager at Our Path Home, a private and public partnership of more than 40 agencies working to end homelessness in the county.
“What we're most worried about is whether our funding partners like Ada County, cities throughout Ada County and the state are going to help fund the solutions that we know we need to implement to confront what we're experiencing on the ground,” Mattoon said.
Rising rent costs and the region’s housing shortage have created a competitive housing market, he added, making it much harder for individuals and families to find affordable homes. In the last few years, rental rates in the region have increased by more than 40%.
“The folks at the margins and those most likely to experience homelessness are going to be the first and deepest casualties of housing loss,” he said.
Mattoon said the PIT count doesn’t fully reflect community needs because it doesn’t count those temporarily staying at hotels or with friends and family. In April alone, he said around 2100 people sought housing assistance from homeless services in Ada County.
“That's why we're focused on housing solutions, it’s because it is the only thing that can truly resolve homelessness,” Mattoon said.