Getting kicked out of their home hasn't been that bad for Katherine Gibson and her son Gabriel. They live in subsidized housing, ride the bus for free and get complimentary child care. But it's perks like these Gibson says keeps other homeless from improving their lives.
"With some people it's giving them too much support maybe that they don't want to try on their own because they're getting that for free," Gibson says.
Right now, 1,192 homeless people live in Rockford. This number comes from the city's annual point in time count taken on January 30th. While statistics show there's significantly fewer homeless living in the area than in the past, city leaders say it's tough to be accurate.
"It could have been due to the extreme cold weather and it could have just been a day where not as many homeless sought service as usual," says Nicole Bockhorn, from Human Services.
More than 20 local agencies and several homeless hangouts were asked to submit their numbers for the survey. However, this time treatment centers were left out, despite many homeless battling with mental illness and substance abuse.
"There's always the question whether if someone is in a treatment facility for substance abuse or whether or not they're homeless whether you can count them or not," Bockhorn says.
This explains why things appear to be getting better, when in fact they remain stagnant. As for Gibson, she continues on the job hunt and plans to be completely on her own within two months.
The Mayor's Task Force on Homelessness is now working on a ten-year plan to end homelessness. They will be using these new findings to help improve the area.