Homeless count

Felicia Holland, right, with the Central Texas Homeless Coalition, surveys Madisan Clark, a resident of the Salvation Army, for the Point-In-Time homeless survey. Clark was at Feed My Sheep to pick up her mail.

TEMPLE — Volunteers were able to find 331 individuals in Bell, Hamilton, Coryell and Lampasas counties who took homeless surveys during an annual homeless count in January.

“We had about 38 volunteers who helped out with the homeless count,” said Amanda Tindell, outreach director the Steven Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors and past president of the Central Texas Homeless Coalition.

The results of the January Point In Time Count were discussed during the area Homeless Coalition meeting this week.

Kyra Henderson, data coordinator for the Texas Homeless Network, went over the results of the count related to area.

In 2019, the Point In Time count surveyed or observed 409 people. In 2018, the number was 325.

Most of the hard work of the point in time counts are done locally, and involve the people who are actually doing the surveys, Henderson said.

Of the people experiencing homelessness in the area, 65 percent, 214, were sheltered; while 18 percent, 59, were unsheltered. The unsheltered locations are places not meant for human habitation — cars, parks, sheds and the streets.

Eighteen percent, or 58 surveys, were observations, people who declined to take the survey or in places where the volunteer didn’t feel safe approaching, Henderson said.

“There was a 41 percent decrease from 2020 to 2019 in observation surveys.

“I want to highlight that number,” she said. “What that means is that volunteers either felt comfortable enough or had enough training to feel safe approaching more individuals.”

There was a decrease of 34 percent from last year in the number of children identified in the Point In Time.

There was a 37 percent decrease in survivors of domestic violence and 36 percent increase in those with a serious mental health disorder, 75 percent increase in substance abuse disorders and 88 percent increase in those identified as chronically homeless.

Henderson cautioned the people at the meeting that the increases were likely the result of the questions about mental disorder, substance abuse and domestic violence being moved up in the survey, because some of the people surveyed won’t stick around to answer all of the questions.

This year’s survey was shortened, she said.

“This probably doesn’t indicate a true increase, but actually may be the first genuine information representation of this data,” Henderson said.

The demographic information of this year’s survey shows 172 males, 147 females and 12 unknown participating. Of the respondents, 139 were white, 139 black, two Asian, one American Indian, one Native Hawaiian, nine multiple races, 20 other and 20 unknown.

Henderson said she was impressed by the number of volunteers involved in the Point In Time and that the surveys turned in by the coalition were some of the most complete surveys the Texas Homeless Network received on Jan. 23.

In the area covered by the Central Texas Homeless Coalition, the survey counted 26 households with children; 60 children under the age of 18; 30 chronically homeless; 235 households without children; 21 unaccompanied youth; and 35 veterans.

The source of income in the past 12 months for most of those surveyed included part-time employment, fulltime employment, money from family, Social Security, panhandling and sex work.

Ninety-one of the respondents had high school diplomas; eight were college graduates and two had master’s degrees or higher.

When asked where they would be sleeping that night, 12 of those surveyed said abandoned buildings, five said outdoor encampment and 10 said they would be sleeping on the sidewalk or street.

The goal this year for the coalition is to increase the number of agencies becoming coordinated entry points for the homeless and using the software HMIS, said Ebony Jackson, president of the coalition.

Coordinated entry focuses on the four core elements of access, assessment, prioritization and referral. It allows anyone on the street needing any number of things, such as food, housing or employment, to go to a particular agency and be assessed.

HMIS, Homeless Management Information System, is a local system used to collect client-level data and data on the provision of housing and services to homeless individuals and families and persons at risk of homelessness.

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