Tri-Cities’ Homeless Population Is Almost 900 – Court Fees Funding Effort to Halve It
Almost 900 people are homeless in Benton and Franklin counties. A goal set in 2005 calls for that number to be cut in half by 2015.
The goal is motivated by Washington state government's plan to end homelessness. The funding source locally is a fee collected for some document filings at the court house. The Benton and Franklin County Board of Commissioners contracted with Benton Franklin Community Action Committee (BFCAC) to develop the plan and execute it with the help of the Housing Continuum of Care Task Force.
According to the 2012 Point In Time count, Benton and Franklin Counties have 891 homeless people. The same group has this prediction for the nation:
Based on new evidence about increased poverty and future economic trends, we estimate that in the next three years homelessness in the United States could increase by 5 percent, or 74,000 people.
"Median income levels have decreased by 2 percent. Unemployment remains above 9 percent. Nearly 50 million people remain without health insurance. As a result, demographic shifts have occurred including an 11-percent increase in the number of households living in doubled up housing situations," the report concluded.
Causes of homelessness include bad finances, domestic violence, health problems, poor mental health and addictions. In 2002, the Washington Legislature passed the Low Income Housing Program to help with the lack of available affordable housing, stagnant wages, domestic violence and addiction. In 2005, another bill was passed to regulate a 10-year plan to end homelessness.