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Area homeless number down from last year

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WILMINGTON -- The numbers are in for the tri-county's homeless population, and the news is encouraging. Last year volunteers counted more than 600 homeless people living in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties. This year, they counted just under 500. Here's how the numbers break down: 416 were counted in New Hanover, 80 in Brunswick and in Pender Counties The drop in numbers can be attributed to the housing authority issuing more section-8 housing subsidies. We also now have 50 more affordable housing units in the Cape Fear area. Anita Oldham with the Southeastern Center for Mental Health said, "From here we just try to help the agencies that are serving the homeless people in any way we can try to encourage developers to build more affordable housing. Obviously, the link is there to help the homeless situation and that's what we need more of." The count also includes people in domestic violence shelters. Even though they may be able to afford housing, they cannot return to their residence because of domestic abuse. Wendy Bonham at the Salvation Army says another reason the numbers are down may be because of more community support agencies that help people find jobs and get back on their feet.

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