COVID-19 makes it more difficult for Chicago to determine homelessness stats

Chicago’s homeless population is lower for two years straight, but advocates worry the numbers aren’t accurate

Chicago /
Feb.February 28, 2022 12:03 PM

(iStock)

Advocates are concerned that Chicago’s most recent homeless count isn’t accurate because of the impacts of COVID-19, leaving vulnerable populations uncounted and with less access to services.

The most recent data shows that those in Chicago experiencing homelessness dropped 16 percent in 2021, according to a new report from the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune reports the counts were done by volunteers and then sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development where they’re used to allocate federal resources.

Advocates and organizations that provide services to Chicago’s homeless population expressed concern about the numbers, and said many are likely being unintentionally excluded from the count. Part of that is because of barriers due to COVID-19 and part is due to how the count is conducted, using a national “point-in-time” estimate that counts the homeless populations over a single night every year. This year’s count allowed for sampling, meaning it didn’t require volunteers to count every single area in Chicago, but to make an estimate based on neighborhood samples.

The point-in-time count in January found about 4,500 people. Despite white, Black and Latino people making up equal parts of Chicago’s population, Black people made up 73 percent of the count, compared with white people at about 13 percent and Latinos at 12 percent, according to the Tribune.

COVID-19 distancing measures further complicated the statistics. Because a lot of shelters were at a reduced capacity, those who would have normally been at shelters weren’t counted. Previous measures during the pandemic, like federal aid and the moratorium on evictions, likely prevented some homelessness before they expired last year.

HUD spokeswoman Andrea Roebker told the Tribune that the most recent drop shows that federal efforts had a positive impact.

Local organizations have vastly different numbers than the federal count. Sam Carlson, manager of research and outreach for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, told the Tribune the group uses several statistics including public school counts of homeless students and people who use homeless services to make their estimate. The coalition estimated about 58,000 homeless people in Chicago in its last count in 2019.

The pandemic has also shuttered some previous homeless shelters, like those in churches. Chicago was also housing people experiencing homelessness in unused hotels, but the city ended it’s program at Hotel Julian last week.

Experts also said that a wave of evictions could be coming soon, as aid runs out and evictions, which take several months to process, are executed.

[Chicago Tribune] — Miranda Davis






    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    A photo illustration of Cook County (iStock)
    Cook County friendlier to homeownership than other markets
    Cook County friendlier to homeownership than other markets
    11 E Walton Street apartment 5800, 4002 and 3101 (Zillow, iStock)
    Three condos listed at Waldorf Astoria in Gold Coast
    Three condos listed at Waldorf Astoria in Gold Coast
    Compass' Robert Reffkin, @Proerties' Mike Golden and Berkshire Hathaway's Diane Glass (iStock, Getty Images, @Properties. Berkshire Hathaway)
    @properties, Berkshire brace for cooling market
    @properties, Berkshire brace for cooling market
    801 South Financial Place (Alta Rosevelt. iStock)
    South Loop apartment tower trades in largest downtown apartment sale of 2022
    South Loop apartment tower trades in largest downtown apartment sale of 2022
    Fritz Kaegi (iStock)
    Chicago Assessor Kaegi wins primary, fending off trade union challenge
    Chicago Assessor Kaegi wins primary, fending off trade union challenge
    977 Forest Avenue, Glencoe, IL (AtProperties)
    Six-bedroom mansion may become Glencoe’s second-priciest listing
    Six-bedroom mansion may become Glencoe’s second-priciest listing
    1134 Taylorsport Lane (Redfin, JS Eckert)
    Life’s a beach at these five Chicago-area lakeside homes
    Life’s a beach at these five Chicago-area lakeside homes
    1919 N Dayton St, Chicago (Zillow)
    Lincoln Park mansion sale underscores strength of Chicago luxury market
    Lincoln Park mansion sale underscores strength of Chicago luxury market
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...