Decline in Homeless: Figures in Question

HUD's new report shows an astonishing decline in homelessness across the United States, but some groups are saying that they are too good to be true.

"Long Island advocates for the homeless said the declines occurred because HUD changed guidelines in late 2006 for counting the homeless, requiring an interview with each person counted. In 2005, counters could use their judgment to determine if a person was homeless.

Many homeless men and women - especially the chronically homeless - declined to be interviewed and were not counted, advocates said. From 2005 to 2007, the number of chronically homeless in Nassau fell from 164 to 12 and in Suffolk from 435 to 40, the federal report said.

"The numbers are down ... because there were restrictions put on us," said Connie Lassandro, Nassau County's director of housing and homeless services. "Obviously [HUD] is thrilled because they see the number is down. It's all about funding. If the numbers are down, they can say the need's not there."

Asked about the change yesterday, Johnston said interviews were not required. He said the decreases came as thousands of HUD-funded housing for the homeless became available. "We really believe these numbers," he said."

Full Story: Numbers of homeless drop, but some question data

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