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Jan 23, 2014 12:48 AM by David Jay - Q2 News

Survey expected to show increase in homeless population

BILLINGS - A survey taken in 2013 showed homelessness in the Billings area increased nearly 10 percent compared to the previous year.

This year, officials expect that number will increase again.

Volunteers with the HRDC met with people at the HUB mental health center to take an annual survey.

Other volunteers also conducted "a point in time" survey throughout Yellowstone County and four surrounding counties: Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater and Sweetgrass.

Last year, 803 people identified themselves as homeless.

More than 40 percent of those include people who stay outside or in a homeless or emergency shelter.

Officials said it's really a combination of factors that leads to homelessness.

"Some of it is the ongoing generational poverty and homelessness that we have in our community," said Joe Chalupa, team lead for the HUB. "And others are newly homeless because of economics and job situations or health situations that are making it difficult to make ends meet."

"Our numbers as a comparison to national efforts, obviously bigger cities are going to show bigger numbers," said Tess Besaw. "But when you actually look at our total overall population, we're probably right there within the percentage."

The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires agencies to conduct this annual survey in order to receive federal funding.

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