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Coos Bay homeless population decreasing, but problems remain

"Homeless not Hopeless" (SBG)

COOS BAY, Ore. -- Jennifer Barton says it was her drug addiction that pushed her family out of their home.

"Kinda bounced around from motel to motel and just ended up on the streets."

After years of battling her addiction, Barton 's journey to recovery began while seeking shelter at the Devereux Center.

"A couple of the volunteers really related to my story," she said. "I wanted to know how they pulled themselves out of it."

Today, Barton has a home and has been clean and sober for 15 months.

"Once I started to work my program and I gained employment and stuff like that, things kinda started to fall into place, the community started to look at me differently and doors started to open up."

State records show Coos County reduced its homeless population by 35 percent since 2015.

But while those results look encouraging, local services and shelters say the numbers do not reflect reality.

"The state of homelessness in the county today I think is actually worse than it's ever been," said Devereux Center Executive Director Tara Johnson. "There are more people coming to the center and getting help. They don't always come for an extended period of time, but they're people who are temporarily homeless."

For Jennifer Barton, kicking a longtime drug habit was key to overcoming homelessness for her and her family.

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