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Homeless numbers in Treasure Coast drop 24%, according to survey

'Moving people out of shelter into housing and that was a big part of the reason why we have the decrease,' Rayme Nuckles says
Posted at 7:17 PM, Apr 17, 2024

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Michael Lee Bates is a veteran that fell into homelessness after years of addiction.

"Not going back to that life," he said.

Right now, he’s staying at the Housing Hub Shelter in St. Lucie County, but soon he’ll be getting the help from the Treasure Coast Homeless Services Council.

“I’m getting my place here within a week or within the end of the month and I’ll have my own place in Vero in Indian River," Bates said. "I'm going to be looking for my own type of work I want to do."

A new report by the Treasure Coast Homeless Services Council shows results of the 2024 homeless count for Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties.

Michael Lee Bates is a veteran that fell into homelessness after years of addiction April 17 2024
Veteran Michael Lee Bates talks about how his life has changed now that he has taken steps to get housing assistance.

“It’s a requirement from our state and federal governments in order to determine the amount of funding that should be allocated to us,” Rayme Nuckles, Treasure Coast Homeless Services Council visionary leader, said.

This year, they counted a total of 701 people experiencing homelessness, a 24% drop from the 925 they counted in 2023.

Nuckles explained they've recently shifted their focus from homeless prevention to rehousing.

“Moving people out of shelter into housing and that was a big part of the reason why we have the decrease,” he said.

Nuckles said while the numbers point to success, more work needs to be done including work on the survey system.

Rayme Nuckles Treasure Coast Homeless Services Council visionary leader April 17 2024
Treasure Coast Homeless Services Council visionary leader Rayme Nuckles explains why homeless rates have decreased.

“Even though we have the decrease, there’s still a need in our community,” Nuckles said. “Do I think that there may be more potentially people on the streets than what we’ve counted in one day? It’s highly possible, but we’re required to do the count in a 24-hour time period.”

For now, people like Bates are grateful to have the assistance.

“Being tied down for a while, instead of being so loose out on the street," he said. "Now, I can see a big difference in the way I’m running my life.”