SAN ANTONIO – Every January, volunteers with homeless organizations across the nation take part in a Point-in-Time (PIT) count to understand how many homeless people are in shelters and encampments in communities.
The pandemic has forced many of those organizations, including the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH), to cancel the PIT count in 2021 to avoid spreading the virus.
Katie Vela, executive director of SARAH, says the cancellation protects the staff members and homeless people from COVID-19.
The data collected during the PIT county helps local agencies determine the types of programs that are needed. The count is also required for agencies and cities to apply for federal dollars.
“This is really critical data for us. It’s a good measurement to see, year over year, how we’re doing with homelessness,” Vela said.
In January 2020, more than 400 Bexar County volunteers went out to count the homeless community in shelters and encampments throughout the area.
This year, SARAH will be using the Homeless Management Information System to get a count. About 700 agencies in the area use the program.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allowed the workaround process for organizations like SARAH.