Fort Worth

Homelessness on the rise in Fort Worth area, survey shows

The results of Count Night 2016 were unveiled in Fort Worth Thursday. Volunteers and police officers counted 1,985 homeless people in Tarrant and Parker counties on Jan. 28. Many homeless people rely on social service efforts and shelters located along East Lancaster in Fort Worth, Thursday, February 25, 2016.
The results of Count Night 2016 were unveiled in Fort Worth Thursday. Volunteers and police officers counted 1,985 homeless people in Tarrant and Parker counties on Jan. 28. Many homeless people rely on social service efforts and shelters located along East Lancaster in Fort Worth, Thursday, February 25, 2016. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

The number of homeless people found in Tarrant and Parker counties during an annual count was up 3.7 percent from last year, according to the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition.

There were 1,985 homeless people counted on Jan. 28, up from 1,914 during the 2015 count, said Otis Thornton, executive director for the coalition.

The numbers were released last week.

“I never want to see an increase,” Thornton said. “I’m glad it wasn’t worse than it is.”

More homeless people were staying outdoors or “unsheltered,” according to count. There were 408 staying outdoors on Jan. 28, up from 217 during last year’s count.

Warmer weather in January likely contributed to that number, he said. The high temperature Jan. 28 was 69 degrees and the low 33. During last year’s count on Jan. 22, the high was 47 and the low 36.

The shortage of affordable housing coupled with extremely low vacancy rates makes escaping homelessness incredibly difficult.

Otis Thornton, executive director Tarrant County Homeless Coalition

Many homeless people in Tarrant County congregate in the homeless district on Lancaster Avenue, outside of downtown.

Thornton said the economy has a direct impact on homelessness, as household incomes have been stagnant while rents have increased. That issue is compounded by a lack of affordable apartments for low-income families, he said.

Here’s a snapshot of Count Night 2016:

1,985 homeless people counted Jan. 28 in Tarrant and Parker counties

1,846 homeless people counted in Fort Worth

346 homeless people counted in Arlington

334 homeless children under 18 counted

30 homeless veterans were found staying outside of a shelter

30 percent of Tarrant County renters who can’t afford fair-market rent

6,706 people who experienced homelessness in 2015

Diane A. Smith: 817-390-7675, @dianeasmith1

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