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Fulton County is in Georgia State (US) with Atlanta serving as its capital city. It is one of the most populated counties in Georgia and has a considerable number of homeless people. Based on some reasons, it is important to know the aggregate number of homeless people in Fulton County. Knowing this number aids the identification and provision of homeless victims with transitional programs and shelter. It also enables effective planning, financing, and implementation of important services to the homeless people (Hombs, 2001). The aggregate number of the homeless victims in Fulton County also indicates critical living trends within Georgia and beyond. Concurrently, it enhances the public’s understanding of the issues concerning the homeless. Finally, the data is important for the government, local authority, and other humanitarian organizations that seek to help the homeless people.
The aggregate information on the number of homeless people is necessary to help the community tackle this problem. Evidently, it affects the entire community (Clapham, 2005). This paper provides the investigated aggregate number of homeless individuals in the county (Fulton). It considers the sheltered and the unsheltered individuals who were counted in a study executed by Pathways titled, “The Metro Atlanta Tri-Jurisdictional Collaborative Continuum Care on Homeless” (Clapham, 2005). The paper is divided in to various sections that deal with specific issues namely the introduction, general information and a section that include information on homeless individuals and families. In addition, the paper discerns sleeping locations, North and South Fulton, methods used in the study, and a conclusion section at the end.
The population of Fulton County living below the poverty line is projected to be 15%. Nearly 3250 families are likely to become homeless annually. People of Fulton County who are aware of county’s homelessness is estimated to be 6%; nonetheless, the Fulton is one of the most populated counties in Georgia State as indicated earlier. Homeless people can be classified as either unsheltered or sheltered homeless people. The unsheltered homeless people are those who reside in areas regarded unfit for human habitation (Burt, United States., & Urban Institute, 1999). Such areas can be the road side, vehicles, and abandoned buildings. The sheltered homeless are those who live in the emergency shelters that have been put by the authority and other organizations. Transitional housing is a facility providing shelter and supportive services to the homeless individuals. This is incorporated by proper management, facilitation, and provisions of adequate skills to enable homeless individuals acquire their own homes within a year.
The study done by Pathways in Atlanta city, Fulton County, and DeKalb County found a total of 6838 homeless individuals (Henderson, 2012). The unaccompanied adult men constituted the largest group with regard to homelessness (with 67%) while the unaccompanied adult females were the second largest group with 15%. The third and fourth largest groups were the children and single mothers comprising 10% and 5% respectively. The study found a total of 325 homeless individuals in Fulton County. It was the region with the lowest number of homeless individuals. The homeless people in Fulton County are mainly individuals and not families. The individuals who are homeless constituted 52% of the total homeless people in Fulton. This means that the study found a total of 169 homeless individuals who are not with their families in the County.
Homeless Individuals and Homeless Families
In Fulton County, unaccompanied male adults constituted the largest group of the homeless. This was around 80% (Henderson, 2012). Nearly all of these homeless individuals (92%) slept in unsheltered locations with the remaining 8% sleeping in transitional facilities. The unaccompanied adult females comprised the other largest group of homeless people (19%). Of these, 59% stayed in transitional facilities while the rest slept in unsheltered regions. The study found Fulton to be having the lowest number of unsheltered people as it constituted 1%. A possible explanation for the low number is that many households in the region earn year incomes that are above the poverty level. Sandy Springs households in Fulton County, for example, have median annual incomes of $76477 while Roswell households have median annual incomes of $79733. In Fulton, the study found 60 homeless families. 97% of the homeless families were headed by single mothers and only 1 family was headed by a single father. The average number of persons in these families was found to be 2.58 per household. Most of these families (73%) stayed in transitional housing facilities.
The study found 141 homeless individuals to be sleeping in the unsheltered locations while 143 homeless people slept in transitional facilities. The number of homeless people who stayed in emergency shelters was the lowest in Fulton with a total of 41 people. In general, the number of homeless individuals has increased compared to earlier years. However, the pattern has been rising and falling making it unique. This is a vital provision when considered in the context of housing with regard to Fulton County. There was a gradual decline in the number of homeless individuals between 2003 and 2005. The decrease in the numbers of the homeless was by 21 people.
However, between the years 2005 and 2007, the number rose by 84 homeless people (Henderson, 2012). This was later followed by a tremendous decrease (68) in 2008. During the period of study by Pathways (2010), the overall increase was 22 people. The year in which the highest numbers of homeless people were counted in Fulton County is 2007. Concurrently, the year that had the least number of people was 2005. The number of the unsheltered homeless people in the county increased from the first count done by the Pathways by 57 people which represents a 68 increase. The emergency shelter number of homeless people decreased. The transitional housing facility figures of the homeless have fallen over time. It is important to understand the provisions of this homelessness in order to establish and implement viable remedial mechanisms.
North Fulton and South Fulton
South Fulton had the highest number of individuals who were counted in the study as homeless. This was 54% or 178 people against the total number of people counted as homeless (Henderson, 2012). The rest (46% or 147 people) were located in North Fulton, which is situated to the north of Atlanta City. Those who were homeless in South Fulton were mainly unsheltered. This represented nearly 84% of the 178 people. The remaining 16% slept in transitional housing facilities. In South Fulton, emergency shelters do not exist. In contrast, majority of the individuals counted as homeless in North Fulton were housed at the transitional housing facilities and the percentage was 67%. Only 18% of the homeless in North Fulton slept outdoors or were unsheltered. The few emergency shelters that exist in North Fulton housed 23% of the homeless individuals in the region.
The Methods Used
It is important to know the method that was used in the Metro Atlanta Tri-J CoC’s study to get the aggregate figures presented in this paper. The methods used were classified as either unsheltered or sheltered count method. The unsheltered count method used a combination of various methodologies to find the number of individuals considered to be homeless in one night. Some of the methods were direct and involved going to areas where the homeless frequented. The indirect methods were majorly estimations. The canvassing method involved covering of regions in a location by the enumerators where they observed people. The best times for doing this activity were in the morning and at night as this enabled easy labeling of individuals as housed or homeless. This way of obtaining the numbers is best applicable in the urban areas. It also enables easy finding of the hidden homeless. The homeless families are, however, not easy to find as they usually go into secluded areas such as abandoned buildings (Bhugra, 2007). The enumerators had to collaborate with the community to get the numbers of the homeless when using this method.
In the sheltered count method, a list containing the agencies, transitional facilities, and emergency shelters in the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, and DeKalb County was first created. This provided researchers with the names of shelter houses, transitional facilities, and beds available in the permanent supportive house agencies. The researchers then contacted the agencies to obtain the figures of the homeless individuals in the various facilities on the night of the count. They then obtained all the relevant information that was deemed necessary so as to ensure that the data they obtained was accurate.
The population of the homeless individuals in US has demonstrated fluctuating trends. Concurrently, this situation is witnessed in Fulton County. Economic conditions such as unemployment constitute the major causes of homelessness (Jaret & Adelman, 1997). The population of Fulton County that lives below poverty line is estimated to be 15%. The homeless people can be classified as either sheltered or unsheltered. The homeless individuals in Fulton County were found to be 325 and mostly consist of individuals but not families. Individuals without families constituted 52% or 169 of the total homeless individuals in Fulton County. The unaccompanied adult males constituted the largest group of the homeless and this was 80%. 92% of them were unsheltered while the remaining 8% slept in transitional facilities. The unaccompanied adult females comprised 19% of the homeless and 59% of them lived in transitional facilities. There are 60 homeless families of which 97% are headed by single mothers. The average number of individuals in these families was found to be 2.58. The homeless individuals who are unsheltered are 141 while 143 of the homeless slept in transitional houses as indicated earlier. The number of the homeless who stayed in the emergency shelters is 41 people. South Fulton has the highest number of homeless individual (54% or 178) of which 84% were unsheltered. The homeless people in North Fulton comprised 46% or 147 of the total homeless individuals in the county and only 67% were unsheltered. The methods used to obtain the data were classified as the unsheltered and sheltered count methods.
Bhugra, D. (2007). Homelessness and mental health. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Burt, M., United States., & Urban Institute. (1999). Homelessness: Programs and the people they serve. Washington, DC: The Council.
Clapham, D. (2005). The meaning of housing: A pathways approach. Bristol: Policy Press.
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Henderson, M. (2012). The depletion wall: Non-renewable resources, population growth, and the economics of poverty/the fifth wave. Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec: Waves of the Future.
Hombs, M. (2001). American homelessness: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Jaret, C. & Adelman, R. (1997). Homelessness in metro Atlanta. Atlanta, GA: Research Atlanta.