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Who are the homeless?

Who goes to the family shelters?

Most are single mothers with children. A December 1991 survey of 28 major cities by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 72 percent of homeless families were headed by a single parent.

Most are homeless for short periods of time. A 1988 HUD survey found that 70 percent of the families said they had been homeless less than three months.

Most are not transients. In the HUD survey, 84 percent of the families had been local residents for at least one year.

Some are employed. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey found that 18 percent of all homeless adults held jobs.

They are a racially mixed group. The mayors survey found 48 percent of the homeless were black, 34 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic and 3 percent from other racial groups.

In Pinellas County, a 1991 survey of family shelters found that 63 percent of the children were younger than 10. Fifty-eight percent were white; 38 percent were black. About 75 percent lived with a single parent. Two-thirds of the adults had high school diplomas or equivalency degrees. Among heads of households, 51 percent were employed.

How many children are homeless?

Recent estimates have ranged from 61,500 children nightly to half a million children annually. Partly this is a problem of defining "homeless" and counting people who are homeless but not in shelters.

Is demand for shelters growing?

A survey of shelters in 182 cities by the Urban Institute found that the demand tripled between 1981 and 1989, from five to 15 beds per 10,000 residents.

Among the cities surveyed, the Conference of Mayors reported the greatest increase in requests for emergency shelter _ 40 percent in a year _ was in Miami.

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