TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — There’s a growing number of homeless people in Hillsborough County, according to preliminary data from the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative.

Right now, city and county leaders are working to address the problem. CEO Antoinette Hayes-Triplett said it will likely get worse before it gets better.

“It’s a big concern,” Hayes-Triplett said.

Preliminary results for 2022 show an overall increase in homelessness and a very slight decrease in street homelessness. 

Overall homelessness includes those in homeless shelters (The Salvation Army, Metro Ministry, Dawning Family Services, etc.). Street/Unsheltered homelessness includes those sleeping on the street, in parks, and in places not meant for human habitation.

There has been a steady decrease in unsheltered homelessness since 2014 directly related to the work of the service providers and the 400-plus additional beds funded by the county.

“I think the numbers are going to continue to rise,” Hayes-Triplett said, pointing to a lack of affordable housing.

According to a previous report from WFLA, Tampa is the 18th most expensive place to rent in the U.S.

She’s concerned what homeless numbers will look like in the next few months.

“We have resorted to paying five month security deposit and still we’re having a difficult time finding units,” Hayes-Triplett said. “I’m optimistic. I would not be in this job if I didn’t think it could get better.”

Hayes-Triplett said they have an initiative where people who are low income can live together and share the cost of housing. The program has already begun moving people into homes.

The goal of the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative is to scale up its community-wide strategic plan that was implemented in late 2019 with seed money from County Commissioners. It includes 10 initiatives. Eight of those initiatives focus directly on increasing housing inventory for the most vulnerable in the community, those that have disabilities and those that will never be able to sign a lease or afford the rent.