Local agencies that serve the county’s homeless population will spend this week surveying for the annual Point -in-Time Count.
Local agencies that serve the county’s homeless population will spend this week surveying for the annual Point-in-Time Count.
Every year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities to complete this count if they receive funds from the Continuum of Care Program to provide services to the homeless.
The Stark County Homeless Services Collaborative sponsors and organizes the count. Data tracked in the Homeless Management Information System and then used to track trends in the homeless population and to plan services to best meet the needs of the homeless in the community.
“This is a snapshot count of how many homeless people there are at a given time within a community,” explained Amanda Fletcher, Housing Development Coordinator at ICAN Housing Solutions and co-chairperson of this year’s count. “This year, Stark County designated the night of Jan. 27 for our Point-in-Time Count.”
Beginning today through Sunday, agencies, institutions and organizations that serve or have contact with people who are homeless will be asking them, “Where did you sleep on the night of Jan. 27?”
Other information gathered will include their ages, income, if they have a disability, have served in the military, and how long they have been homeless. The survey also includes identifiers to make sure individuals are not counted twice.
Fletcher said that Stark County has been conducting the count annually since 2003 and originally counted the unsheltered homeless by going out on the designated night and trying to locate them.
“Experience showed that this was not the best way to get a count,” said Fletcher citing several reasons, including transiency and that some individuals were not responsive because they felt their privacy was being invaded.
Accuracy is difficult in cold weather, especially, she said and they would miss the hidden homeless who may have been sleeping in abandoned homes and garages.
Last year’s Point-in-Time count surveyed 1,257 homeless people with data showing 482 on the street, in emergency shelters or transitional housing, and another 775 in permanent supportive housing or living temporarily with friends or family members.
Those numbers were up 1,078 total homeless in 2011.
COUNTING OUR HOMELESS
Those agencies participating in the Point-in-Time Count include:
Refuge of Hope
Alliance for Children and Families
American Rescue Workers
Community Services of Stark County
Salvation Army Canton
Salvation Army Massillon
Crisis Intervention and Recovery Services
Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority
ICAN Housing Solutions