A surge in housing costs in the Tampa Bay region has led to a 4% increase in the number of homeless people in Hillsborough County, according to new data from the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, whose annual point-in-time count was released on Tuesday.
The organization says it has tallied 1,513 homeless people this year, up from 1,452 in 2020, the most recent year the count was conducted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The count took place on Feb. 24 with the assistance of more than 120 volunteers who canvassed the entire county.
“It has become tremendously difficult to find affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness,” states Antoinette Hayes-Triplett, CEO of Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, in a news release. “The PIT count data was collected in February, prior to the significant increases in rent, gas and food. I am extremely concerned about the ongoing affordable housing crisis in Tampa and Hillsborough County, especially for our aging residents. Since 2018, there has been a 67% increase in the number of residents 62 years and older seeking homeless services.”
The PIT count, the release states, revealed some good news: The county’s population of homeless veterans declined from 160 to 147 between 2020 and 2022 — a drop of 8%. However, family homelessness rose by 21%, from 379 people to 458 people.
“Our community has shown great resilience in the face of the ongoing pandemic, but many challenges remain,” Hayes-Triplett states in the release. “Homelessness impacts the quality of life for everyone in our community. It is imperative for the community to be a part of the solution.”