News Detail

Annual Point in Time Survey Chronicles Homeless

Release Date: May 07, 2013
1,050 individuals or members of families were homeless one January night

The annual Point in Time Survey, which provides a snapshot of Maine’s homeless population on one particular night, found that 1,050 individuals or members of families were homeless one night last January.

On January 25, MaineHousing, homeless service providers, outreach workers and homeless advocates conducted a statewide census of people staying in emergency shelters, on the streets, or in places not meant for habitation.

The annual Point in Time Survey is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The results help define the dimensions of homelessness in Maine and are used by service providers, particularly the state’s two Continuums of Care, to plan programs that appropriately address what resources are needed in their communities to prevent and end homelessness.

The Continuums of Care, one in Portland and one statewide, are former and current homeless individuals, advocates, service providers, governmental agencies and businesses who work together to provide a full range of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing and other services to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

“The number of people who were homeless on any other night – especially a January night -- is just a shame,” said Peter Merrill, Acting Director of MaineHousing. “MaineHousing and its partners continue to reach out to people who are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless to help put them on a path to a stable home life. In the last two years, 13,469 people received homeless prevention or rapid re-housing assistance.”

Of the 1,050 people who were counted as being homeless on January 25, 1,017 were staying in emergency shelters while 33 individuals were unsheltered and staying in cars, tents, abandoned buildings, outside or in other places not suitable for habitation.

Of the 1,050 people who were homeless, 390 were in Portland and 660 were in the rest of the state.

The figure does not represent the total number of people who are homeless in a year. The population of people who are homeless is counted by the number of bed nights spent at homeless shelters. In 2011, 7,725 unique individuals spent a combined total of 304,524 bed nights.

Single adults encompassed most of the people encountered, but approximately one-third of the people who were homeless were members of families (323 people with 195 of them being children), a figure that is similar to the National Center on Family Homelessness’ national average.

The survey recorded demographic information, homeless situations and service needs, wherever possible. The majority of respondents reported that they were white (87 percent), unemployed (83 percent), from Maine (83.5 percent), and almost half have at least a high school education (48 percent).

The majority of people (72 percent) had been homeless for seven days to six months prior to the survey. Approximately 38 percent of the people surveyed were homeless for the first time while 17 percent are chronically homeless.

Almost 18 percent of the adults surveyed are domestic violence survivors, and approximately 12 percent are veterans.

Also, the majority of adults surveyed suffer from a chronic disability, severe or persistent mental illness, and/or chronic substance abuse.

To see the results of the Point in Time Survey, visit