Annaul PIT Count Of Homeless Goes Virtual
When COVID-19 first began to spread and affect employment, advocates for the homeless worried that there would be a significant increase in the local homeless population. But a moratorium on evictions has helped to prevent that. The pandemic is affecting the annual Point In Time count of the homeless, which is happening in communities across the country today and tomorrow.
This year instead of sending volunteers into Abilene to gather information directly from people experiencing homelessness, Abilene Hope Haven, The Salvation Army, Our House, BCFS, and Noah’s Project are doing a kind of virtual count. “We’re not going to have large groups of volunteers getting together and going out and talking to people in groups,” said Madi Hutson, Coalition Coordinator for the West Texas Homeless Network. “We’re keeping it insulated within organizations, where they’re counting all of the people that they’re serving, or the people that they know of."
Hutson says there is a chance of missing some homeless people through this approach, but they’ve taken that into account, “Our organizations already know those people, and are working to serve them. So even those that they haven’t been able to bring into our programs, they’re already aware of those. So they may not be counted on the PIT this year, but we already are accounting for them in our community,” Hutson said.
Last year the PIT counted 116 homeless individuals in Abilene, most of whom were connected to area agencies for support. Hutson says she expects similar results this year.
Last November, advocates for the homeless announced that Abilene had achieved zero functional chronic homelessness. That means that nearly all of the people who are homeless in Abilene are in temporary housing, and receiving support services through local organizations and working toward establishing a long-term housing situation. Abilene hit goal of zero functional homelessness for veterans in 2019.
Hutson says their most recent data shows six people are currently homeless in Abilene and not receiving any support services, but they hope to have a clearer picture at the end of the count.