TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - New numbers show that more homeless people are getting off Tucson's streets.
In January, volunteers went around to dozens of places where the homeless camp out. This year's count shows more than 1,500 people on the streets of Pima County. In 2015, there were more than 1,700 homeless; which is nearly 200 less than 2014.
Homelessness in Tucson is on a surprising downward trend. Officials with the Homeless Count say one of the big reasons why the numbers are decreasing is because of a program called "Housing First."
A few years ago, shelters had a lot of rules and wouldn't take anyone using drugs or alcohol. But after Housing First Programs started, the rules are little less strict. Shelters are letting more people in and In turn, more people are learning about ways to get into permanent housing.
James Truitt has been homeless for more than seven years in Tucson. He says finding an apartment has been life-changing,
"I never thought that after seven and a half years that I would be calling a place home again, but it's very nice. For me it's more like a castle," he said.
Jacqueline Brown just found permanent housing as well.
"I want to get off the street because I want to have a place that I can say is mine, you know?" she said. "I don't have to worry about going through all of this to find a place to eat, place to sleep, a place to shower. You know I can have it right there."
Z Mansion, a banquet hall at 288 N. Church Avenue that opens up to help the homeless when the need is there, such as during hot days, has been seeing a surprising new trend happening here in Tucson. Volunteers say they are seeing more young people than ever before using their services.
Millennials that have been kicked out of their parents' homes are on a sharp increase right now in Tucson.
Officials say it's a trend that they will be monitoring closely.