A report finds the number of homeless people in the Garden State is higher than it was last year.

Kasey Congero, of Ending Homeless Team at Monarch Housing Associates, said data collected for the NJCounts 2020 report found 9,663 men, women and children in 7,365 households experienced homelessness, an increase of about 799 people from 2019.

Teams in every New Jersey county collected homelessness data and found there were close to 8,000 people in emergency shelters, hotel/motel placements, transitional housing and safe-haven programs, an increase of 6% from 2019.

And almost 2,000 people had no shelter at all, an increase of 304 people from the previous year.

Additionally the report counted 1,076 homeless households, an 8% increase in family homelessness from last year. A family is defined as a household with at least one child under 18 years and one adult. The homeless count included 45 unaccompanied people under the age of 18, an increase of 32% from 2019.

Congero said the homeless count traditionally has been done on a single evening but this year “each county chose to do a seven-day service-based count. Agencies, nonprofits, volunteers worked to count the homeless in places that they frequently go to,” including soup kitchens, drop-in centers and other locations. She said this kind of an approach resulted in a more comprehensive count.

“It really focuses on meeting the homeless where they’re at,” she said. “Where they’re comfortable, where their routine might be.”

Congero said many Garden State residents might not be aware there’s a homeless problem because “it’s absolutely not as visual as it is in large cities like New York or Philadelphia."

She added New Jersey continues to see racial disparities in who experiences homelessness.

“Black people in New Jersey represent about 13% of the state population but they are about 50% of the population experiencing homelessness,” she said.

Counties across the state annually conduct NJCounts, as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to secure federal funding for programs serving the homeless population. This year’s NJCounts was conducted in late January and early February.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.