A Place To Call Home: A Closer Look at Where People Experiencing Homelessness are From

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 11:35 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -There are many questions revolving around homelessness in the County, including how many households experience homelessness, where they are from, and employment status. In this segment of " A PLACE TO CALL HOME,” Corey Bouchard breaks down the data surrounding those questions.

There are three data sets collected that deal with the Homeless Population in Aroostook County. There is the Point in Time Count, which is taken on a single night every January, there is data collected by Homeless Services of Aroostook and the third is ACAP’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. According to the people who provided this data, it is all self reported by those using the services. During this years Point in Time count, there were 79 homeless. The Other two data samples are from September of this year. At that time there were 40 Households using the Homeless Services of Aroostook Shelters and 88 Households utilizing the Emergency Rental Assistance program to stay in County Hotels. One qustion on the minds of people in aroostook county is where are those experiencing homelessness from

Heidi Rackliffe”Do we absolutely have a couple people who have come from out of state,of course we do, we cant stop individuals from coming to our community either however if you look at a majority and the services we provided they are local”

Looking at the data, starting with the Point in Time Count, In January of 2022, 23 of the 79 people surveyed reported they were from somewhere within the county, the other 56 people did not respond to the question. Of the People using the ERA Program in hotels, 68 reported to be from the county, 8 were from within the state but outside of the county, and 12 were not from the state at all. Of people using HSA Shelters, 20 were from the county, 11 from out of the county, and 9 from out of state. Which means that out of the 128 total households using some form of services for homelessness, 88 or 69% are from the county, with 31% from away. Which matches closely with what WAGM saw during a recent visit to the Hope and Prosperity Resource Center, Talking to people currently experiencing homelessness a majority we spoke to did identify as being from the county, and of those not from the county, their reasons for coming to the County were varied. They included: wanting a fresh start, having family in the area, and getting or seeking employment.

Dr. Katie White”Many people who are in shelter are employed, so they migrated because of work and then they found out they cant find housing. They made a smart choice, go where there’s a job but one of the things we struggled with as a state is to make sure there is an adequate source a sufficient source of affordable housing when people say yes and take that job and bring their families or come up by themselves”

Lisa Mclaughlin ”we do have quite a few people who have jobs that work that are heere and they’re working and theyre trying to save their money but there is a shortage on housing, on apartments and it makes it difficult for them to move on”

Of Course employment isnt the only form of income. Of the people in hotels 17% were employed, 23% were on Social Security or Social Security Disability. In the Shelters 22% were employed and 35% were on SSI/SSDI.

With the ERA funding still paused until further notice, and funding uncertain, it is not yet clear what will happen to those using the service, and how this will affect the data of those experiencing homelessness in not only a homelessness crisis, but an affordable housing crisis as well. Corey Bouchard, NS8