Volunteers record living conditions of Rapid City's homeless population

Source KXXV

"Volunteers will observe as much as they can, while counting the homeless in the area".

The county totals are then compiled for a statewide estimate of the homeless population.

The Southeast Coalition for the Homeless (SEACH) has arranged for the PIT count to take place Saturday.

Pam Anderson, the co-chair of the Housing and Homeless Coalition said the number is representative of a bigger picture. One recent study found that almost 554,000 people were living on the streets on a single night a year ago.

"It's hard because it's a visual count, and you're driving, you're not walking, and a lot of people are well hidden", said Bridge to Home Director of Programs Chris Najarro.

We're told this annual count gives shelters a better picture how many people are out there in need, and this year more effort is being put into encampments, or those who live outside of shelters.

The survey tracks where people spent the night that night to help plan for services and prevent homelessness, said Ann Thoresen, the senior director of the Atlantic Homeless Alliance and Justice Involved Services at Jewish Family Service. The Point in Time Count is a requirement of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which now supports the Northwest CoC member agencies with $289,952 in competitive grant funding.

Monarch Housing Associates is coordinating the NJ Counts survey for the fifth year.

At 4 a.m., the volunteer teams were out in the streets talking with the unsheltered homeless and later on Thursday, will visit shelters, hot meal programs and encampments to count and survey people experiencing homelessness. This doesn't always account for all homeless people, however.

The count begins at 5:30 p.m. and wraps up Friday morning for a feeding event at Tulsa's Iron Gate at 501 South Cincinnati.

"HALO is a volunteer based organization, so we have to have the volunteers to cover if we have an influx of individuals", says HALO's executive director Celeste Savage. Each year, more than $1.5 million is granted through the Continuum of Care to Virginia Beach agencies that provide housing and supportive services to the homeless. Attendees were also able to connect with nonprofits and services who could further help them individually.

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