County’s homeless to be counted
Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 9:15 pm
By KEVIN BOWDEN
A 24-hour campaign to count Obion County’s homeless will take place early next week. Amanda Nichols with Carey Counseling Center will start at noon Tuesday and will go until noon Wednesday as she collects information on the county’s homeless population.
This is Ms. Nichols’ third year to conduct the homeless population count in Obion County.
The 2012 Point-In-Time count showed 27 unsheltered individuals in Obion County, 24 chronic homeless and one homeless veteran. In the 23 counties that make up rural West Tennessee, there were 1,197 unsheltered individuals counted last year and a total of 1,827 total homeless. The total number of homeless veterans in the 23-county region was 85, according to last year’s count.
The 2012 Point-In-Time homeless count revealed the homeless statistics for those counties surrounding Obion County:
• Weakley County had the highest number of unsheltered individuals in the 23-county region with 225. There were 12 chronic homeless and four homeless veterans counted last year.
• Lake County had 98 unsheltered individuals, 22 chronic homeless and eight homeless veterans counted last year.
• Dyer County had 71 unsheltered individuals, four chronic homeless and 10 homeless veterans counted last year.
• Gibson County had among the lowest number of unsheltered individuals in the 23-county region with eight. There were no chronic homeless in Gibson County and four homeless veterans counted last year.
“The Point-In-Time Count is critical to the survival of our fellow brothers and sisters living in the most critical of situations, homeless,” a news release states.
The annual homeless count is being conducted statewide. Tennessee Homeless Solutions is required to complete the Point-In-Time Count for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The goal of the 24-hour count is to gather accurate and credible data, which will then be used to measure homelessness trends across the state. The data is used to determine the needs for appropriate services for the homeless and to prioritize those needs.
The information gathered through the homeless count is forwarded to HUD, which will use the data to present “a snapshot of the homeless situation across the nation” to Congress, according to the news release.
Ms. Nichols explained she and a spotter will spend 24 hours touring Obion County looking for the homeless. She is also contacting local resources such as churches, law enforcement agencies and other organizations to try to locate the homeless in the county.
The information she and others involved in the Point-In-Time count gather will ultimately be used to determine federal homeless funding.
Carey Counseling is overseeing the homeless counts in Obion, Benton, Carroll, Gibson, Henry and Lake counties.
Anyone with knowledge of someone who is homeless in Obion County can contact Ms. Nichols at (731) 234-8592.
She said the homeless can fall into two categories — sheltered and un-sheltered. Ms. Nichols explained a person can be considered homeless who is staying in a shelter or who is staying in housing provided by family, a church, friends or other sources. A person living in an abandoned house is also considered homeless, according to Ms. Nichols.
The history of the homeless count dates back to 1999, when the State of Tennessee formed a task force to deal with the lack of housing for mental health consumers. It was later discovered HUD funds were available to serve the homeless and a coalition was formed. The original coalition was made up of primarily mental health and housing organizations, but it has since expanded to include faith-based organizations and food banks. Tennessee Homeless Solutions was formed in 2001 as a non-profit agency whose mission statement is “to reduce homelessness and improve family stability by increasing housing resources, supportive services and other necessary resources.”
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 1.18.13