- Associated Press - Monday, May 16, 2016

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) - The number of homeless people in northern Idaho increased 5 percent from 2015, new data shows, with service providers attributing the increase to more participation in this year’s count.

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association figures indicate there were 450 homeless people in the region as of Jan. 27, up from 429 at the same time last year, The Coeur d’Alene Press (https://bit.ly/1V5k4if ) reported.

Jeff Conroy, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of North Idaho, said the organization is still serving about the same number of homeless people as it did last year. Conroy said he believes the count is higher because of participation from St. Maries and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

“I don’t think homelessness has gone up - we just got a better count,” he said.

Statewide, 2,247 homeless people were counted for the report.

The data is used when applying for funding to help address homelessness, but Conroy said the higher total won’t necessarily help. He noted that aid workers were told to do more with less money last year.

He said there’s not enough affordable housing to get people off the streets.

Still, nonprofit groups in the area have collaborated to make sure people get help. Conroy said there are at least two soup kitchens open every night.

He also noted that about 75 percent of the work at agencies such as St. Vincent involves helping people living in poverty and in danger of becoming homeless.

“Although the homeless number is always interesting, those living from paycheck to paycheck who are on the verge of losing their homes is far greater,” he said. “That’s the bigger issue.”

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Information from: Coeur d’Alene Press, https://www.cdapress.com


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