The results are in. The U.S. Census Bureau, after its first one-night attempt to count the homeless in shelters and on the streets nationwide, released results of its count on Friday.
According to census tables listing major cities in the United States, Salt Lake City is listed as having 542 homeless people living in shelters and 705 total homeless living both in the shelters and on the streets.Enumerators, many of them homeless themselves, spent all night March 20, 1990, counting Salt Lake City's homeless population going as far as canoeing down the Jordan River counting those camping along the banks.
The New York Times reported the Census Bureau counted a total of 230,000 homeless people, a number well below conservative estimates.
"I think the census count is a positive thing as long as they are honest when they release their numbers," said Shirley Weathers of Utah Issues. "I am pleased to see the public becoming more aware of the homeless."
However, Weathers fears if the public perceives the count to be accurate, they could be strongly misled.
The Census Bureau said the count was not intended to be a complete tabulation of the homeless. Critics have estimated that the bureau may have missed up to two-thirds of the people it intended to count.
This apparently seemed to be the case in Salt Lake City as well. Enumerators described the morning after the count as being unusually quiet and fear that many of the homeless didn't want to be counted and stayed in places where they knew they wouldn't be counted. Pioneer Park and other areas where the homeless are known to camp were almost deserted.
The number of homeless counted by the Census Bureau amounted to one-tenth of 1 percent of the entire population.
Numbers of homeless in major Western cities: Boise, 133; Denver, 1,269; Los Angeles, 7,706; Las Vegas, 572; Phoenix, 1,986; and Albuquerque, 370.