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PHOENIX -- The Valley's homeless count has jumped by 11 percent in the past year and for many, including an increasing number of families, it's their first time on the street.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said the Valley has about 6,000 homeless people, which is up by about 650 people from last year.

Irene Augustin, spokeswoman for Central Arizona Shelter Services, said the staff has seen a rise in the number of families who've lost jobs and been forced out of homes.

"There's actually a waiting list for homeless families with our shelter," said Augustin.

Another trend she's seeing is more homelessness among 18 to- 25-year-olds. It's the result of parents who are dealing with hard times financially and can no longer afford to take care of post-high-school-age children living at home.

Augustin said the number of chronically homeless seems to be dropping in Phoenix.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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