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Homeless numbers show improvement

As volunteers and city officials working the 31st annual Homeless Census on Dec. 6 emerged from the Downtown Crossing T station, someone nudged Jim Greene in the direction of a man lying on a table up against a brick wall.

As volunteers and city officials working the 31st annual Homeless Census on Dec. 6 emerged from the Downtown Crossing T station, someone nudged Jim Greene in the direction of a man lying on a table up against a brick wall.

“It could’ve been a pushcart a vendor left, the truth is it’s a person,” Greene, the director of the city’s Emergency Shelter Commission, said of the homeless man named Ronnie who was eating a sandwich in an olive drab sleeping bag.

Clutching a cell phone with glove-less hands, Greene called a van to take the military veteran to a shelter on the first bitter cold night in December.

City and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development figures released yesterday show a 30 percent decrease in homelessness in the past five years. The number of chronically homeless people has decreased 25 percent, which officials attribute to the city’s innovative efforts to permanently house the homeless.

Jim Tierney, a city employee volunteering on Dec. 6, was grateful to have his own warm bed that night.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said while patrolling a dark alley. “It drives home how fortunate we are.”

 
 
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