Survey Makes Surprising Finds In Smith County Homeless Population - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/09/07-Tyler

Survey Makes Surprising Finds In Smith County Homeless Population

There were some startling numbers revealed from a survey to determine how many homeless people are living in Smith County. Friday morning, the Smith County Coalition For The Homeless released its results from the survey conducted two weeks ago.

Volunteers canvassed homeless shelters and areas where the homeless are known to live. They found nearly 230 people living in Smith County, a higher number than they expected. Nearly 70% of those surveyed are Caucasian.  African Americans made up 25% of those surveyed.  Four percent were American Indian or Alaska Native and one percent were multi-racial.

"The media does in fact portray the homelessness to be of minorities, African American and Hispanic, so most people believe that to be the case. But the data actually shows that the majority of the homeless population is actually white," said Smith County Coalition For The Homeless president Christina Fulsom.

Other startling results: the number of people who are homeless but actually hold full-time jobs. More than 50% of those surveyed said they did not have a job. But 30% said, they had a full- time job but were unable to afford to live off their salary.

The coalition says it hopes to use the results it gathered from the survey to see how it can better assist those without a home get back on their feet.

"Many people that are homeless are actually employed, maybe not making a living wage, but are employed and working as many as 35 hours, 40 hours a week and yet not enough to be able to support themselves and buy housing," said Fourth Partner Foundation program officer Dawn Franks.

The Smith County Coalition For The Homeless says with the data it's gathered, it hopes to create programs or strengthened those that will help the homeless get back on their feet. The coalition says it will compare its numbers with state and national numbers in the coming month. They'll look at what trends, if there are any, and see if they can implement any changes here in Smith County.

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.  ortega@kltv.com

 

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