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Mayor's Office

2006 Media Releases

November 15, 2006
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Bradd Schmeichel, Urban Development, 441-7856
Tiffany Mullison, Fresh Start, 475-7777
Susanne Blue, Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach, 477-4116
Merry Wills, CEDARS, 437-8807
Dennis Hoffman, CenterPointe, 475-5161

Seng honored for her commitment to helping the homeless

Mayor Coleen J. Seng today released the results of a survey estimating that 822 people are homeless in Lincoln, including 363 children under the age of 18. The “Point in Time” survey is an annual effort to estimate the size of the City’s homeless population. It is conducted by organizations that provide services to the homeless and the Lincoln Police Department. The survey provides an unduplicated count of those individuals and families who received homeless services during the week of October 23rd.

“Lincoln is very fortunate to have a very strong Homeless Coalition, with many agencies and individuals working every day to serve the homeless,” said Mayor Seng. “Members of the Coalition also are seeking out the root causes of homelessness and finding ways to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless. I want to thank everyone who supports these efforts to combat homelessness and hunger in our community.”

Of the homeless people surveyed, 56.4 percent were female. Other findings from the “Point in Time” count include:

  • 68 percent were Caucasian, 17.4 percent were African-American, 6 percent were Hispanic and 5 percent were Native American.
  • 28-percent were members of single-parent families, with at least one child under the age of 18.
  • 34 percent were victims of domestic violence.
  • 38 percent were homeless for the first time, and 30 percent had been homeless less than three months.

Susanne Blue, Executive Director of Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach, said advocates believe the actual number of homeless is higher because the survey counted only those receiving services that week. Homeless people living in cars or motel rooms or with family or friends were not counted.

Blue projects that her agency will provide more than 111,000 meals this year, an all-time high. She said the significant increase may be due to the economy and the expanded space at the center.

Scott Young, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Lincoln said his agency distributed more than 2.3 million pounds of food during the first 10 months of the year. That’s the equivalent of about 6,000 meals every day to the 100 agencies that operate more than 200 programs in the Food Bank’s 16-county service area.

“Our shelves are pretty bare right now” said Young. “The 2006 Holiday Food Drive begins Monday, November 20, and we are hoping for an excellent drive to help the Food Bank support its agencies and clients through the hard winter months. Hunger is a 12-month-a-year problem for the working poor and homeless of our community. The Food Bank and our 100 agencies are committed to doing the best we can to help low-income people ward off hunger.”

Beth Vavrina, Director of Major Giving at the People’s City Mission, said the agency has served nearly 1,700 people so far this year. The Mission has provided 70,287 nights of lodging; provided 14,176 people with food, clothing, and household items; and served 388,593 meals to homeless and low-income residents of Lincoln.

The release of today’s survey results also included two special presentations:

  • Mayor Seng issued a proclamation today declaring November as Homeless and Hunger Awareness Month in the City of Lincoln.
  • The Lincoln-Lancaster County Homeless Coalition presented Mayor Seng with a Lifetime Achievement Award. “Mayor Seng has been a solid supporter of homeless individuals and the agencies who serve them for many years,” said Merry Wills of CEDARS, who is chair of the Coalition. “Furthermore, Mayor Seng provided key leadership in some of the earliest efforts to address the needs of the homeless in our community. This award is a small token of our appreciation for Mayor Seng’s compassion, dedication and leadership on this important issue.”

The Coalition will present other awards at its annual recognition event at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, November 17, at Matt Talbot, 1911 “R” Street.

The 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.

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