The number of homeless people in Douglas County remained fairly consistent in 2013 as compared with 2011, according to results from the Point-in-Time Homeless Count, which is conducted every two years.
During the count — conducted Jan. 23 and mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD — volunteers fanned out across the county and identified 223 homeless people, down from 226 in 2011. However, the numbers for the past two counts are about double the 112 homeless people identified in 2009.
The number of homeless children identified in the count increased slightly, from 69 in 2011 to 71 in 2013.
The results were reported at a Tuesday morning meeting of the city's Homeless Issues Advisory Committee.
Danielle Dresslar, the city's community development manager, cautioned that the numbers may not reflect the true picture of homelessness and called the results just a "snapshot" of homelessness in Douglas County.
"I think everyone would agree this is a low number," Dresslar said. "Service providers can probably speak to the fact that they're seeing more (homeless clients)."
Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, said his shelter has seen numbers consistently near the shelter's capacity of 125 people. Whether homelessness is going up or down much "is hard to say."
"Homelessness is a complicated problem," Henderson said.
During the count, volunteers across the county and the country visited homeless shelters and social service agencies and contacted the homeless in the streets, trying to gauge the scope of homelessness.
New this year in Douglas County, volunteers asked a variety of questions designed to help better understand some of the causes of homelessness.
"It gave us some really good information," Dresslar said.
The additional questions identified job loss, lack of affordable housing, and a medical condition as the most frequent causes of homelessness, as reported by those interviewed.