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Concerns Persist Despite Atlanta's Homeless Population Drop

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta homelessness continues to decline new statistics show although advocates see some troubling trends in the numbers.

The city identified just over 3,000 homeless people in its annual census in January — a 14 percent decrease since last year, WABE Radio reported.

Despite the overall drop in Atlanta's homeless population, there are some discouraging figures in the new report, said Jack Hardin, co-chairman of the United Way's Regional Commission on Homelessness.

Homelessness among veterans and families rose slightly this year, for instance. And so did the number of homeless sleeping on streets, rather than in shelters, the report shows.

Hardin said that suggests that reaching homeless people on the streets should be a key part of Atlanta's efforts to combat homelessness.

"The numbers will do their job, which is to help us know where we need to focus," Hardin said. "One of the areas we need to focus on is street outreach."

The increase in the number of homeless living without shelter might be related to the closing of the large shelter in midtown Atlanta which was known as Peachtree-Pine.

That left the city without an emergency men's shelter for several months.

"That probably meant that people who might've accessed such a shelter wound up on the streets," Hardin told the radio station.

Overall, the city has seen about a 30 percent drop in homelessness since 2015, when it started using the current counting method.

Nationally, homelessness increased for the first time last year — with west coast cities such as Los Angeles and Seattle fueling most of that growth, WABE reported.

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