Homeless Rate Drops Nearly 50%

<p>Homeless man</p>

Homeless man

Over the years, the homeless have been an unfortunate staple of everyday life in the City of Yakima and other parts of the county -- however, that appears to be changing.

Emily and Dave Brown have lived in Yakima most of their lives, and say things were quite different 10 to 15 years ago.

"There was a lot going on here, including homeless people, panhandlers and other things like that," said Emily, "It just didn't feel like a safe place to be."

The Homeless Network of Yakima County says the number of homeless people in the county is on the way down.

According to the most recent Point in Time survey, homeless numbers have dropped more than 12% in the past year, and nearly 50% over the past 10 -- since the homeless network program was started (from 1,369 to 759).

"I would say definitely the crime has been reduced tremendously around here," said Dave.

Program directors say it's a combination of things that have added to the drop in homeless rates; connecting people to services, churches, food banks, anything to point them in the right direction and hopefully get them back on their feet.

"To address the issue of homelessness, it takes a partnership of many different players who have different expertise," said Housing and Homeless supervisor Tim Sullivan, "But your biggest partner needs to be government as well, especially where the highest population of homelessness is."

Emily and Dave Brown say it makes the entire area more appealing--especially because it's a community wide effort.

"Most of us want to do something," said Emily, "It's nice if you can see a difference and you can see that it's helping not just us, but the community as a whole."

The Homeless Network says it is currently working on programs to help bring down the number of chronic homeless -- people with disabilities that have been homeless for over a year.

There are about 80 people in that group in Yakima County.