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Over half a million people are homeless in the United States

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That's down 2% from the a year ago.

Luiz Aragon, the commissioner of the New Rochelle Department of Development, said the program would help 12 to 15 people who are now living in the Oasis Shelter - an emergency shelter located at 19 Washington Ave. that provides temporary shelter, bedding and three meals per day for the homeless - or on the streets.

Nationally, there has been an overall 11 percent decrease and 26 percent drop in the unsheltered homeless population since 2010, HUD announced.

In Madison/Dane County, the total count of homeless people dipped slightly from January 2014's 777 to 771 this January, according to HUD data.

"HUD's point-in-time count is meant to give an estimate of how many homeless Americans there are on one particular night", First Focus Campaign for Children, a children's advocacy group, said in a news release about the figures.

Not only do most of us not do much to alleviate homelessness, we don't really want to see or hear much about it, either.

"I don't really know how it's going to work out", he says.

He said the count from the federal department doesn't include people who temporarily stay with friends or family and move around to stay off the streets. The National Alliance to End Homelessness conducted research that shows that 82 percent of documented homeless persons are in urban or mostly urban areas. "The decrease between 2104 and 2015 of only an estimated 1 percent, I think, needs to be treated as a call to action at all levels of government". Outreach workers can spend months coaxing them out of the street life to which they have adapted, and counseling, substance abuse treatment and case management can be required for months or even years to keep them in housing. Since 2010, chronic homelessness declined 45 percent.

Mic: Turning to the difficulties of being homeless for anyone in this country, earlier this year the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in a case in Boise, Idaho, saying that preventing the homeless from sleeping outside should be considered unconstitutional and cruel and unusual punishment. Oliva says one problem is that more than 6,000 homeless vets have been given housing vouchers, but can't find apartments that will take them.

JC: The idea behind housing-first is to get a homeless person into permanent housing - not transitional housing or shelter, but permanent housing immediately.

HUD says that's down 2 percent, from 578,000 the previous year.

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