Thursday, January 29, 2009

Counting the County's Homeless

Lane County had about 350,000 people last year. Four-fifths of these were older than 18. 186,000 were potentially part of the workforce.

Last year there were 2,111 homeless people in Lane County at the time their census happened. That works out to six-tenths of a percent of the population, or 1.1% of the potential workforce.

I wonder how that compares to other counties? Despite its small size, Lane County is the second most populous region in the state (after Portland and its suburbs).

Two factors might make this statistic unreliable. First, the county has a substantial transient population: I am not sure whether this causes a fluctuation of dozens or hundreds on any day. Second, the census happens during winter and I would expect it is not quite representative for the rest of the year.

Also note that my calculation of 0.06% is odd because four-fifth of total population is over eighteen years old whereas the homeless population has few children.

(Tangentially, the county's unemployment rate is reported to be 9.5%.)

UPDATE: Curious about how many of the county's homeless are children and how many are chronic homeless, I called Pearl Wolfe at the county Human Services Commission. She will have that information for 2007.

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