Report: Homelessness rises

As the economy continues to sour, the number of homeless people in the state’s capital city continues to rise, a report released today announced.

“This provides us with more evidence to do the right thing,” Sen. Jonathan A. Harris, D-West Hartford, co-chairman of the legislature’s public health committee, said as the report was released at the state Capitol. “This is really a call to action.”

The annual homelessness report compiled by the non-profit Journey Home highlights the cost of homelessness in terms of state services. Journey surveyed 367 homeless people in Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester and Vernon and determined that $1.2 million was spent for their health care alone over the past year.

For one homeless man from Hartford, the state spent $116,860 in the past year on medical care, housing and criminal justice, the report says.

“Everything that we do obviously is colored by, and has to be judged by, the context of our budget situation,” Harris said. “We are going to have to rethink how we deliver services. …That’s without a doubt.”

The average time those surveyed were homeless was between two to six years. Those who have been homeless the longest tend to be in the end stages of kidney disease, have HIV or AIDS, are over 60 years old or are mentally ill.

Based on reports from homeless shelters, the number of those homeless in Hartford has risen from 2007 to 2010: Households rose from 513 to 766, single adults from 429 to 675, and children in families from 125 to 167.