City holds annual homeless count
Point-In-Time count determines federal aid
The South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless conducted its annual Point-In-Time count of the city's homeless population Tuesday, which helps determine the amount of federal funding given to the city.
"These counts are important because it helps the various agencies and services in town that focus on people who are in homeless situations," said Estella Garza, co-coordinator for the count. "It brings in federal dollars to help support the agencies for services."
The count, which officials admit will never reach 100% accuracy, also seeks to determine how local groups should spend those funding dollars by conducting surveys of the homeless population during the count. Hundreds of volunteers search known encampments across the city and the county.
According to Garza, the medical needs include detox, day care, social services and clothing.
Garza said the biggest hurdle during the count is trying to find people that sometimes don't want to be found.
"They don't want to be considered homeless. 'Homeless' is a nasty word," she said. "It's really trying to collect data from them that will best help us and guide us as to what we can do to support them."
"We are finding that if we reach out to them and let them know the resources that are available by having these programs and letting them know, then the awareness is getting out and they're more apt to come out and talk about their homeless status," said Charles Johnson, one of the hundreds of volunteers who took part in the count.
The numbers also account for people living in area shelters.
For a list of recent stories by Charles Gonzalez, click here.
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