DES MOINES — There were 23,808 people in Iowa classified as homeless and another 15,351 people were considered “at risk” of becoming homeless last year — both figures representing double-digit increases compared to 2008, according to a state study issued Tuesday.
Within the overall counts, families made up 14,068 of Iowa’s homeless and 13,153 of those at-risk of becoming homeless.
The report was prepared by the Iowa Institute for Community Alliances and issued to Gov. Chet Culver on behalf of the Iowa Council on Homelessness. It indicated there likely was some overlap between the homeless and at-risk populations but the total of 38,078 people who received emergency and transitional services was an unduplicated count for 2009. Homeless were reported in every county in Iowa.
A homeless person was defined as someone who lacked a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence or had a primary nighttime residence that was a supervised, temporary shelter or a place not designated as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. A person at-risk of homelessness sought services to prevent homelessness but did not qualify as homeless.
Nearly three in five of Iowa’s homeless households listed economics as either the primary or secondary reason they became homeless, the report stated. Homeless families generally make 43.7 percent of what is necessary to support a single-parent family with two children in Iowa, while single adults receiving homeless services make on average nearly 30 percent of what is necessary for them to survive in Iowa, according to the report. Income sources of homeless Iowans included earned income, child support, government assistance, Social Security, disability, alimony and unemployment benefits.