Updated July 28 at 11:28am

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public policy

R.I. homeless population shrinks 20%

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PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s homeless population shrank 20 percent in 2011 compared with last year, according to estimates released by the federal government Tuesday.

The figures, based on counts done across the country in January, estimated 1,070 homeless people in the state in 2011, down from 1,282 in 2010. In addition to the drop in the total number of people without places to live in Rhode Island, the number of homeless families dropped to 137 this year from 216 last year.

The report did not provide estimates for individual Rhode Island cities.

The statewide figures track a national 2.1 percent decline in the homeless population in the annual “point in time” report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The report showed a 12 percent decline in homeless military veterans.

“It’s remarkable that in the wake of the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression, we’re witnessing an across-the-board drop in homelessness,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan in a statement accompanying the report. “This tells us that the Obama administration’s homelessness strategy is working and the results spur us to continue working to end homelessness in America once and for all.”

In Massachusetts, New Bedford saw the number of homeless drop to 351 this year from 374 last year, while in the Attleboro-Taunton area and Fall River, homelessness increased from year to year.

Fall River’s homeless population reached 288 this year, up from 253 last year. The Attleboro-Taunton area saw homelessness reach 224, up from 174 last year.

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