City Census Reveals Fewer People Sleeping On The Streets In Boston

An annual point-in-time survey of the homeless population in Boston found a slight uptick in the number of people using the city's homeless shelter system, but a decrease in the number of people sleeping on the streets.

City officials recently released the results of their 38th annual homeless census, where Mayor Marty Walsh, other city officials, homeless provider agencies and volunteers documented the number of homeless people they counted on the streets and in emergency and transitional shelters, on the night of Jan. 31, 2018.

The survey results show that overall, homelessness in Boston fell about 3 percent — from 6,327 in 2017 to 6,146 in 2018. But the number of people using an emergency shelter went up by about 1 percent.

The number of single adults sleeping on the street fell about 12 percent from 2017, and census takers said there were no families on the streets or unsheltered in Boston the night of the survey. (Weather can play a role in how many people are on the streets or in a shelter.)

Results from the 2018 Homelessness Survey. (Graphic courtesy of City of Boston)
Results from the 2018 Homelessness Survey. (Graphic courtesy of City of Boston)

The city also announced it has chosen the California-based consulting firm Focus Strategies to help redesign and modernize the city's emergency shelter system.

"When we launched Boston's Way Home, I committed my administration to ending chronic and veteran homelessness," Walsh said in a press release. "Not only have we ended chronic veteran homelessness, but we have also housed more than 500 chronically homeless individuals. This is tremendous progress, but there is still much more work to be done. I'm confident that the team at Focus Strategies will help us take the next step in re-creating our emergency shelter system."

Once Focus has completed an analysis of the city's current system, it will release a plan to help the city and partner agencies better help the homeless population in the city.


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Meghan B. Kelly Multi-platform Editor
Meghan is the multi-platform editor for WBUR.



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