'Point-in-time' survey to assess homeless population

The survey will be conducted for the 24-hour period of Aug. 23.
WARREN -- Trumbull County organizations that deal with serving the homeless will soon have a much clearer picture of just how many homeless people exist in the county.
Members of the Trumbull County Housing Collaborative will be conducting a "point-in-time" survey of all the homeless in the county. The survey will be conducted during the 24-hour period of Aug. 23.
The housing collaborative is a group of about 20 organizations that work with homeless people and deal with issues surrounding homelessness. The organization was founded in 1989.
Julie M. Green of the county planning commission, and a member of the housing collaborative, said nearly 100 social agencies, hospitals, police agencies and shelters would be receiving surveys to help in counting the number of homeless people encountered by those organizations Aug. 23.
"Based on previous experience we have determined that these 100 or so organizations come in contact with the homeless sometime during the year," she said. "The main focus is to ask them to help us count the homeless in Trumbull County in that 24-hour period."
Summer survey
According to Green, the housing collaborative has conducted other point-in-time surveys, one as recently as January, but never during the summer months. She said the number of homeless counted will likely be higher than in past surveys because homeless people are more likely to find some type of shelter during the winter and are more transient during the summer.
Each organization participating in the survey will receive a set of survey forms. As the organization renders services to the public, the survey forms will be used to track the number of homeless individuals receiving the various services.
Green said no names will be taken for the purposes of the survey. Most organizations, she said, have some means of recording those they service and faith-based social workers in the county regularly conduct outreach to identify and help those individuals.
Each survey does include subgroups of homeless people -- chronically homeless, seriously mentally ill, chronic substance abuse, veterans, people with HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, youth and dual diagnosis.
Tammy Weaver of Coleman Professional Services, which has been assisting the county in creating a plan to end homelessness, said the subgroups are critical to understanding the causes of homelessness. She said previous data has shown that those becoming homeless often fit into one or more of the groupings.
Understanding the problem
Weaver said those causes need to be dealt with to put a dent in the homeless situation here and on a national level.
Green said the survey will go along way toward dealing with the issues listed in the survey. She said once officials identity the number of homeless in the area, a comparison to available services can be done and any deficiencies in available services can be determined. State and federal grants can be sought to fill the void in needed services, Green said.
According to Green, identifying the homeless, the reasons they are homeless and ultimately working to end homelessness here will be beneficial to every resident of the area with a decrease in use of social services. A decrease in use of social services, she said, could eventually mean a decrease in funds needed to support those services.
"I think this initiative is very important," she said. "One homeless person is too many. We need to take care of our homeless people and those at risk to be homeless."