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Providing Housing Helped Ohio Reduce Homelessness

Six years after a federally mandated effort, Ohio sees a 17 percent drop in homelessness.

Homelessness in Ohio has decreased by 17 percent in the last six years, reports The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Today there are nearly 40 percent fewer homeless veterans and nearly 30 percent fewer homeless families in the state compared to six years ago.

Bill Faith with COOHIO, the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, says these advancements are due in large part to a nationwide initiative - the Obama Administration's Opening Doors program. Faith says the program used data, best practices and experimentation to learn what tactics worked best.

In Ohio, Faith says they've learned to provide housing first, despite existing mental health or substance abuse issues.

"It's very difficult for someone to get well if they're still living on the streets or in shelters," Faith says.

The report from HUD shows that persisting issues include rent-burdened families "doubling up" in apartments and homes. Faith says many of these people struggle with low-wages and a shortage of public housing.