New numbers show sharp increase in area's homeless population

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SARASOTA-- A new survey released Thursday by the Suncoast Partnership to end Homelessness shows a sharp increase in the number of homeless men, women and children living on the Suncoast.

"I think it's safe to say that we have seen more than double an increase in the homeless numbers since 2011," said Leslie Loveless, with the Partnership.

The survey, taken every two years, shows that as of January 2013, there are at least 1234 homeless people in Sarasota County. In Manatee County, there are more than 820 people. What's even more disturbing is the number of homeless people younger than 18-years-old. The survey indicates there are more than 444 in that age range living in the region.

"It's heartbreaking," said Loveless. "It's hard for me to believe that a child would need to live in that kind of environment in America."

So why the increase? According to Loveless, you can't just pinpoint one thing. Yet, she says home foreclosures are a big reason why more families are now homeless. And you might be wondering if the City of Sarasota's recent decision to suspend its panhandling ordinance has anything to do with the boost. Loveless says probably not. 80% of that area's homeless population has lived here for more than one year.