Volunteers across the state will get to work this week to try to get a count of the homeless population in Missouri.
This Point-in-time Count is required once every two years by HUD, but the Missouri Interagency Council on Homelessness does it in cooperation with many other agencies twice every year. Jenni Miller with the Missouri Housing Development Commission says it’s not just a count of the homeless in Missouri, it’s also a survey.
“It asks general questions about how long someone has been homeless, if they’re a veteran, their age,” Miller said.
Miller says that information will help Missouri agencies get federal grants.
“Each year HUD will release bonus funds for each Continuum of Care, because these funds are all for supportive housing projects and transitional housing and permanent housing. By having those chronically homeless numbers, we can report those to HUD and then agencies in those areas can use those numbers to show that they have a need to house chronically homeless individuals and can write a program for a permanent hosing bonus project to serve those individuals,” Miller said.
She says that’s the largest source of federal homelessness assistance money in existence.
She says they’ll get numbers from shelters across the state. She also says, despite the cold, they’ll be looking for people out in the streets, in places that aren’t meant for human habitation as defined by HUD.
“In January we do find people in the rural counties. People will tend to be seen in cars and abandoned buildings more often in those times. That’s why it’s important to have people out in the counties actually looking for these people because it’s harder to find people in the winter,” Miller said.
The MHDC and the Missouri Interagency Council on Homelessness work with numerous nonprofit and governmental agencies, and faith-based organizations, to do this count. The count will take place statewide on Wednesday.