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Upcoming count expected to show vast increase in homelessness in southwest Florida

The Point in Time count will take place locally next week.
Posted at 8:34 AM, Jan 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-19 09:47:51-05

This month, teams of volunteers in every city and county in America will hit the streets, search the shelters, and count the number of people experiencing homelessness.

In southwest Florida, the Point in Time Count will take place next week in Lee and Collier Counties.

A report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found homelessness in America is reaching record levels, with more than 650,000 people experiencing homelessness.

Florida, which saw an 18.5% increase in homelessness in 2023, has the third highest homeless population in the country, behind only New York and California.

But southwest Florida is far outpacing the national and state averages.

According to the PIT counts from Lee and Collier Counties last year, both areas saw massive jumps in the number of homeless individuals.

Lee saw a 47% increase, while Collier saw a 52% increase.

“We’re expecting the number to go up,” said Steve Brooder, CEO of St. Matthew’s House which operates two homeless shelters in Collier County. “But there’s so many people who aren’t counted in that point in time count. So, the need is even greater than the numbers will show.”

Experts in the field suggest the true number of homeless individuals is three times higher than the official count.

A lack of affordable housing, rising inflation, and the devastation from Hurricane Ian are all contributing factors to the rising homeless population in southwest Florida, according to experts.