Nationwide Annual Homeless Count Takes Place
SIOUX FALLS, SD– The annual “Point-In-Time Homeless Count” is a nationwide wide event that counts any individual or family experiencing homelessness. It is required by the government to take this survey in order to help programs and other funding needs to the homeless community.
“Last year during the ‘Point-In-Time’ count, we counted about 374 people in Sioux Falls who are experiencing homelessness,” says Director of the Augustana Research Institute Suzanne Smith.
Once a year on a day in January, volunteers go and visit different shelters and organizations to conduct a survey about their homelessness history. This survey is through the “Counting Us” app and it provides federal officials a snap-shot of what the current homeless population looks like in our area.
“The survey asks (really) for really basic, demographic information. We want to know approximate age, race, gender. We want to know whether people are in a family household, or whether they are staying as a individual,” says Smith
Organizers say the survey also can help our community become aware of this issue.
Smith explains, “For our community, it’s really important that we acknowledge homelessness and that we have an objective and long-term measure of how we’re doing when it comes to homelessness. This way we can track any change over time and know if we’re doing better or worse and how many families there are out there.”
60 volunteers started this morning at three to conduct the survey. Some are visiting shelters and organizations like the Bishop Dudley House. Others will be on the street later tonight for anyone who doesn’t have shelter.
“It’s easy to think of homelessness as something that’s distant, out there, or it doesn’t effect us,” says Smith. “But I think (especially the volunteers who are out tonight) realize that these are our neighbors. These are people in our community.”
Volunteers encourage people to visit homeless shelters and other organizations that help the homeless.