Annual count shows homelessness decline in Lincoln

Jeff Chambers (R) from the UNL Center on Children, Families and the Law discusses the Lincoln homelessness count (photo by Mike Tobias, NET News)
May 18, 2018 - 1:47pm

In January workers from organizations that help the homeless walked downtown Lincoln streets and checked shelters for the annual Point in Time count. This nationwide effort attempts to track the number of homeless people at a given time.

Sara Sunderman from Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach points out a spot in downtown Lincoln where homeless people typically sleep, during the January 2018 Point in Time count (image by Ralph Hammack, NET)


CLICK HERE to watch a February 2018 episode of NET's "Speaking of Nebraska" program that features a discussion on homelessness in Nebraska and video segment following the Point in Time count process in Lincoln.


Lincoln has seen a steady decline in homelessness since 2012, based on yearly Point in Time counts (Lincoln Homeless Coalition graphic)

At an event this morning the Lincoln Homeless Coalition had good news to report from the count. A 25 percent decrease from last year, continuing a downward trend that’s seen homelessness decrease 54 percent in Lincoln since 2012 again, based on that one day survey. 

“The increase in rapid rehousing availability and units in our community health has helped us decrease the point in time count numbers," said Jeff Chambers, project director for the UNL Center on Children, Families and the Law, and part of the Lincoln Homeless Coalition. "The development of additional permanent supportive housing programs. The full implementation of the All Doors Lead Home coordinated entry system. And the ability of the Lincoln Community to come together and work as a community across agencies has been very impactful in terms of us helping reduce the people experiencing homelessness in the Point in Time count.”

Coordinated Entry is a national Department of Housing and Urban Development mandate being used statewide. It basically creates a network of agencies to provide one stop service for homeless people.

“Coordinated Entry allows us to prioritize our resources to assist those most in need,” Denise Packard, Coordinated Entry Manager at the UNL Center for Children, Families and the Law said in a news release. “Housing providers and outreach workers are able to stay in close communication through the structured system. This allows them to quickly engage when a housing unit becomes available to move a person out of homelessness and into permanent housing.”

In addition to the overall decrease in homelessness, the Lincoln Coalition reported a 70 percent decline in the number of homeless veterans and a 30 percent decline in the number of homeless youth (under 18) from last year. 

Lee Heflebower, director of housing at Region V Services and part of the Lincoln Homeless Coalition, says the decline means "what we're doing is working" but cautions "this does not mean that people are going to stop becoming homeless. Homelessness is complex. And until we solve the issues that lead people into homelessness, folks are going to continue to move into that. What's important is that we have an appropriate response to that when that happens."

Lincoln Point in Time count statistics

Total Homeless

  • 2018: 451
  • 2017: 606
  • 2012: 981

Homeless Youth (under 18)

  • 2018: 107
  • 2017: 153
  • 2012: 310

Homeless U.S. Military Veterans

  • 2018: 16
  • 2017: 53
  • 2012: 78




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