City of Lincoln
Mayor Coleen J. Seng today released the results of a new survey estimating that 1,591 people are homeless in Lincoln, including 410 children. The “Point in Time Count” was conducted November 12 by organizations that provide services to the homeless in cooperation with the UNL Police and the Lincoln Police Department.
“Homeless is a serious problem, especially when children are involved, making homeless assistance an important mission for the entire community,” said Mayor Seng as she issued a proclamation declaring November as Homeless and Hunger Awareness Month in the City of Lincoln. “As we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinners and the rest of our holiday gatherings, we need to remember those in our community who need our help.”
The Mayor signed the proclamation at the People’s City Mission, where she was joined by members of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Homeless Coalition and its Continuum of Care Planning and Evaluation Committee.
Other findings from the “Point in Time” count include:
“The count confirms what agencies serving the homeless already know B the numbers on the street are going up,” said Susanne Blue, Executive Director of the Matt Talbot Kitchen, a hunger relief and outreach program for Lincoln=s working poor and homeless. Blue is also Co-Chair of Lincoln=s Continuum of Care, which includes about 20 homeless service providers. “In a 12- month period, Lincoln experienced a 56 percent increase in the number of people identified as homeless on the street.”
Blue said advocates believe the actual number of homeless is higher than that identified in the “Point in Time Count” because those not receiving services at the time the survey was conducted were not counted. Homeless who are living in cars or motel rooms or staying with family or friends were not counted.
Blue said the Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach program provides an average of 9,000 free meals every month to Lincoln=s working poor and homeless. She projects that more than 100,000 meals will be provided by the end of the year. In 2002, 103,030 meals were provided.
Ron Buchinski, Executive Director of the People’s City Mission, said the shelter provides 210 beds per night in Lincoln. If all beds are being used, that totals 76,650 nights of lodging and meals provided annually to the public at no cost. Buchinski said three of the past four years, the Mission has housed more women and children than men. The Mission has operated 24 hours a day since 1907, making it Nebraska’s longest running shelter.
Scott Young, Executive Director of Lincoln Food Bank, said his agency distributed 2.1 million pounds of food in the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 10 percent over the same time last year. This is the equivalent of 5,586 meals a day to the 81 agencies that operate 161 programs in the 16-county service area.
“Our Holiday Food Drive is under way, and we are hopeful that we will have enough food on the shelves to get our agencies through the difficult winter months,” said Young. “Food is a critical need of the working poor and homeless 12 months a year, and by giving to the drive people can make a real difference in the lives of these people this winter.”
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Homeless Coalition works to educate the public and raise awareness of issues surrounding the homeless and to encourage citizen involvement. The Coalition’s Continuum of Care Planning and Evaluation Committee identifies gaps in services, coordinates the “Point in Time Count” and conducts a peer review of service providers.