Volunteers to count homeless in Boston

BOSTON — Three hundred and fifty volunteers will fan out across Boston Wednesday evening to get a census of homeless people here in the city.

It comes a day after Gov. Charlie Baker reported the number of families without housing has declined, but service workers said the issue among other groups is critical.

“In two years, the population of homeless families in hotels and motels has been reduced from more than 1,500 to fewer than 100 families today,” said Baker.

But those who serve the homeless population every day said it’s too early for victory laps.

“We need to make the same kind of progress with homeless individuals that we have made with homeless families,” said Lyndia Downie, president and executive director of Pine Street Inn.

Downie said she’s seen a steady increase in the number of homeless individuals on the street.

Pine Street Inn serves 8,000 homeless people every year and can sometimes process 10 intakes a day.

According to last year’s Boston homeless census, the total number of people living on the street was up 20 percent, and the number of homeless youth was up 52.5 percent.

“It’s very worrisome to see young people out on the street that have aged out of foster care or young kids who where they can’t go back to family,” said Downie.

The reason is the lack of affordable housing; in Boston, the average two-bedroom apartment hovers around $2,600. Downie said finding permanent shelter for a Pine Street Inn guest has been a challenge.

“Even people who are working that are here cannot get out and find an affordable place to live,” she said.