NEW YORK, May 24 (Xinhua) -- A tally of the homeless population in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico shows an abrupt jump in the number of people living without permanent housing or with no shelter at all, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, citing the legislative agency focused on budgeting and accountability.
A spot-count commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on a winter night in January identified about 3,850 homeless people, 48 percent more than a year earlier, according to the report.
The count reflected many more unsheltered people -- mostly in Albuquerque, the state's largest city, where authorities are grappling with encampments on sidewalks and riverside parks, it noted.
The change interrupts a gradual, decade-long decline in homelessness in New Mexico, which has the highest poverty rate in the western United States, it said.
"Poverty rates are high, labor participation is low. There is high substance abuse rates," Kathleen Gygi, a program evaluator, was quoted as telling a legislative panel at the state Capitol. "These are all things that compound the problems." ■