Homelessness in Ohio back on the rise

The number of homeless in Ohio has been on a steady decline since 2012, but between 2017 and 2018, there’s been a spike. Those who are formerly homeless and advocate for the homeless say a lack of affordable housing is to blame. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The number of homeless in Ohio has been on a steady decline since 2012, but between 2017 and 2018, there’s been a spike. Those who are formerly homeless and advocate for the homeless say a lack of affordable housing is to blame.

This Christmas will be the first Christmas Cierra Burgan has spent in a place her own in three years. The mother of three has a small apartment in Over-the-Rhine.

“I love it, but I still feel bad for the ones that are out there,” said Burgan.

Burgan was a part of the homeless camp that made its way around Hamilton County earlier in 2018.

“Down on Third Street, I had a tent, but I had to share it with somebody. It was a little tent,” said Burgan.

The Cincinnati native says a lack of affordable housing is to blame for the spike in homelessness in Ohio. Marcus Roth with The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio agrees.

“Rents have been increasing steadily for many years and wages, particularly people that are working lower-wage jobs, just have not been increasing,” said Roth.

Roth’s group says young children are among the fastest growing segments of Ohio’s homeless population.

“Kids are expensive, and the child poverty out there nowadays I feel has something to do with the affordable housing too, and these jobs need to look over some of these people and be like, OK, they got kids, maybe they do need the help,” said Burgan.

Both Burgan and Roth say focusing on families and affordable housing may help reverse the trend.

“It’s actually surprising that we haven’t seen more of an increase than we have given the fact that Ohio has such a lack of affordable housing and rents have been increasing for so long,” said Roth.

Of all the people who used homeless services in 2017, nearly 30 percent of them were minors. The Ohio Housing Financing Agency has called Ohio’s homeless problem “The Silent Crisis.”

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