Preliminary numbers from Killeen’s annual point-in-time homeless count conducted in January show an increase compared to 2013’s numbers.
Leslie Hinkle, Killeen director of community development, said the increase could be attributed to subfreezing temperatures on the day the survey was conducted. Of the 79 who identified themselves as homeless, 19 were at the city’s warming station.
Of the 79 surveyed, 56 were men, 23 women and 13 identified themselves as veterans. Hinkle said all but six of those surveyed graduated from high school and some had higher education.
In 2013, 57 people identified themselves as homeless in Killeen.
Volunteers were sent to locations in the city where the indigent are known to frequent, Hinkle said. Some areas surveyed, along with the warming shelter, were the bus station, the downtown library, under bridges and at Mission Soup Kitchen.
The 21-question surveys are anonymous and include the person’s date of birth, gender, race, how long they have been homeless, if they have a disability and what assistance they need such as food and clothing, job training, food stamps, transportation assistance, case management or veterans benefits.
The survey is a tool used by cities across the nation to identify people who are experiencing homelessness.
As mandated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, municipalities must conduct the survey in order to apply for federal grants to fund services to alleviate homelessness.
Hinkle said the count is fairly accurate and gives the city a better understanding of the people who tend to go unseen.
“It helps us understand who these people are and what the actual picture looks like,” she said. “A lot of people think we don’t have that big of a homeless population because you don’t see people laying around by the street, and the stereotypical things homelessness is generally associated with.
“There are a lot of people in our community who are well hidden, and this brings that out. They’re here, we just may not see them.”
Once the preliminary data was gathered by the city, the surveys are sent to the Texas Homeless Network and compiled with data from other cities in the greater Killeen area. In 2013, Hinkle said more than 400 homeless people were counted in the greater Killeen area.
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