Homeless count up in Lynn

LYNN – The Lynn Shelter Association identified 42 homeless people living on the streets during the city’s annual census on held Jan. 30, up from 28 last year.Of that number, 31 males, seven females, and one family with two children were documented, along with 66 homeless people staying at an emergency shelter the same evening.Lynn Shelter Association Executive Director Marjorie St. Paul said the group searched new streets and neighborhoods this year in an attempt to located new homeless people.”We had a pretty comprehensive list of places to look that we compiled with the help of other people, such as Blossom Street, parks, subway stations, and an abandoned house on Shepherd Street,” she said. “So the same amount of people were probably living in the city last year, but we didn’t locate them.”In addition to the census numbers, St. Paul said an estimated 300 or so non-parentally guided children are living in the city, along with roughly 1,200 teens that have a guardian or are under DSS care.While the number can be considered quite high, St. Paul said the majority of the teens are still attending school.Families are also a concern, although only one family was identified during the census, which St. Paul considered to be on the low end.”There are far more families out there, but they are very hard to find,” she said. “I know of another family with five kids that is looking for housing, but they weren’t around the night of the census. They might have been staying in a car in a driveway at the time and were hard to spot, so I would estimate the city to be more at the 200-300 mark.”According to St. Paul, the age of homeless people detected in the city has significantly dropped, mainly due to older people beginning to take up refuge in shelters instead of the streets.”We found a rise in mental illness out there, and this year there are fewer females on the street compared to last year,” she said. “Three chronic mentally ill women are now housed in the shelter from last year.”A total of four encampments were discovered in the city, which basically means a group of homeless people huddled together outdoors, down one from last year’s total of five.”It seems to be that the grouping scenario is beginning to wither away,” she said. “There’s one group that stays on Nahant Beach right after the causeway and there are others scattered in the city.”Other means of shelter include residing in shuttle buses after hours, hallways of businesses where employees willingly leave the front door unlocked at night, and storage facilities according to St. Paul.The information from the homeless census will be forwarded to Mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr., Lynn Housing Authority, Department of Transitional Assistance, Housing and Urban Development and Lynn Chief of Police John Suslak for review.A public hearing on homelessness is scheduled for Feb. 12 at 9:30 a.m. at Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND) at 10 Church St. The open forum, sponsored by Lynn PACT (People Acting as a Collaborative Team), will focus on providing local agencies and citizens with an opportunity to voice their opinions on the needs of the homeless, and how funds should be utilized to benefit them.

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