There has been an effort underway all week in St. Clair County to count the number of people in the county who are experiencing homelessness. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that communities receiving federal funds from certain programs conduct a count of all sheltered people in the last week of January annually. The initiative is part of a federal program called the Point in Time Count.
This year, the point in time was Wednesday, January 29, but the information can be gathered in the week surrounding that date. Many local agencies have hit the streets to look for people who may be sleeping outside. They have also visited places like shelters, senior centers, food pantries, walk-in clinics, soup kitchens, counseling centers, hospitals, 24-hour businesses, and others to seek out people who don’t have a permanent home.
Homelessness includes those who are “precariously housed” commonly know as individuals “couch surfing” or “doubling up” according to a memo from the Housing and Support Services Workgroup, who is spearheading the initiative as part of the St. Clair County Community Coordinating Body. Amy Bishop, Community Outreach Coordinator for the St. Clair County Health Department, said that the count is very important and is vital for funding to help those who are experiencing homelessness. Many community agencies are working together to present an accurate count in order to allocate resources to the issue in the region.
According to the National Alliance on Ending Homelessness, “Point-in-time counts are important because they establish the dimensions of the problem of homelessness and help policymakers and program administrators track progress toward the goal of ending homelessness. The first of these counts were conducted in January 2005 meaning that we have data for every CoC for the last ten years.”
Reporting for WGRT, Karly Hurley.