"What's up with that?" - Birmingham's homeless - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

"What's up with that?" - Birmingham's homeless

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Every major city has a homeless population.

One of our ABC 33/40 Facebook friends is concerned about what she perceives about Birmingham's homeless.

Crystal White wrote: "I always take pictures in the streets of the city and over the past 10 years the amount of homeless in our community is becoming more and more populated... What is the city doing to help with them?"

Numbers from an organization that collects census data on the homeless in Birmingham actually show a substantial drop in the number of chronically homeless in the last four years.

While this offers some promise, there's no question much more work needs to be done.

56-year-old Brian Tipler recalls just how quickly his life changed.

"I was at the same job for almost 20 years. One day, I woke up, went to work. I didn't have my job. I didn't have my hotel room no more, and became homeless. All within 24 hours," says Tipler.

Tipler has been living at the Salvation Army for the past three months trying to get his life back on track.

He is one of hundreds of homeless in Birmingham however, "The numbers have progressively gone down since 2005." Michelle Farley, with the organization One Roof.

Farley is quick to point out most categories of homeless populations in Birmingham have seen a drop in recent years.

"In 2011, the number of people who were homeless at any given time was 1,950. The next year it was down to 1,707. And January of last year, that number was 1,469."

When compiling the data, Farley noticed a trend.

"The really interesting thing is that I can trace, almost 1 to 1, the decrease in homeless people to the provision of permanent supportive housing."

Don Lupo serves as director of the mayor's office of citizens assistance. 

He agrees the number of homeless in the city is down. But. "The need can be greater, even with smaller numbers," says Lupo.

Birmingham is known as a city that takes care of those in need.

"We are compassionate and I think a lot of the people come here or are dropped off here because of the compassion our citizens do show," Lupo says.

Lupo says the city works with several agencies to help the men and women in need, especially as the colder months approach.

"It's just November, and I'm already getting phone calls from people who want to know, 'what do we need to do' to get prepared for January and February."

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