It’s that time again (the last week in January) and from coast to coast thousands of volunteers have been recruited to help count homeless people during the point-in-time (PIT) count required by HUD, the 800 pound gorilla of “homeless” funding. (Note: to be eligible to score well enough to secure money from HUD during the annual “Continuum of Care” competition, cities/communities, etc. all over America follow the Golden Rule, e.g., the one with the gold makes the rules—and this is a very good rule.)
In January 2014, the total number of homeless people reported during the one-day count was 578,424 (about 6,000 fewer than the entire population of Wyoming!)
Of the 578,424, providers of emergency shelter and transitional housing reported a total of 401,051 homeless people in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs.
More problematic? Finding the “unsheltered” 148,740 unaccompanied adults and the 24,358 households with at least one child under 18.
In the wee hours of the night, at the break of dawn, and throughout the period of time set aside for the count, they fan out across cities, communities and rural areas to help count homeless people on the streets, under viaducts, bridges, and bushes—in parks, encampments, abandoned buildings, and “catholes” just big enough for a person to curl up in and hide—and other places “not meant for human habitation.”
It can be—and often is—a life-changing experience—for homeless people—and for those who count them. (It was for me.) God bless all of those who are being counted, and those who have counted, or will be counting them!