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Survey finds state’s homeless population down 10 percent from 2016

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2017

Despite the improvements, however, overall homelessness statewide remains up by 16 percent since 2007.

By Globe Staff 

The state’s homeless population decreased by 10 percent over the last year, according to results of a national survey released Wednesday.

By contrast, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual Point in Time count found that the homeless population nationwide increased by 1 percent, driven by a surge in homelessness in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities. It is the first time that number has gone up since 2010.

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HUD based its report on a survey conducted here and in other states on a single night in January of this year.

The 17,565 people reported homeless in Massachusetts marked a 10.4 percent decrease over the same time last year and was the second-largest drop of any state nationwide.

The number of homeless veterans in Massachusetts also decreased by 10 percent compared with 2016 — to 853 — and is down by nearly half since 2010, according to the report.

Despite the improvements, however, overall homelessness statewide remains up by 16 percent since 2007.

Sandy Mariano, an executive at Rosie’s Place, a Boston multiservice agency for low-income and homeless women, said that although any reported decline in homelessness is “encouraging,” the reality is that a lot more people are in need.

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“For our women, I haven’t seen the change,” Mariano said. “Every year we grow in numbers for those looking for housing, for those looking for beds.”

Of the 16,000 women annually served by Rosie’s Place, about half are homeless, she said, and the number of women trying to access shelter beds daily at the agency has quadrupled over the past 15 years.

The annual survey also showed that Massachusetts families with children fared better than a year ago. The homeless rate for families dropped by 14.2 percent statewide — the largest decline nationwide, HUD’s report found. But the number of Massachusetts homeless people in families — about 11,300 — is still 65 percent higher than it was a decade ago, the report said.

Richard E. Ring, president of Family Aid Boston, a Boston nonprofit that houses homeless families, credited the city and state for bolstering efforts aimed at reducing the population of homeless families.


Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com
Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.