Nationwide homeless census happening today

It is the dead of winter, and something big is happening for the U.S. homeless population.

Each year, a nationwide count that will estimate the number of people experiencing homelessness is conducted in the last week of January. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses the reported numbers as a prerequisite to releasing homeless assistance funding and creates a national report of the findings.

Are you wondering how this huge undertaking is accomplished? You can visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness blog to find out how community officials, local leaders, service providers, and volunteers work together to gather the most accurate census information possible. The Alliance emphasizes, “As difficult as these counts can be, the data is essential for determining federal and local funding levels for homeless services, tracking effective programs and policies, and accurately illustrating the scope of the homelessness problem to the public.” We couldn’t agree more!

This evening, the Coalition will participate in our local Point In Time Count, facilitated by the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida to calculate the number of homeless in Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties. University of Central Florida students are providing the bulk of the manpower needed, and visiting the Coalition’s Men’s Pavilion this evening will cap off their day’s efforts.

By participating in the Point In Time Count, the Coalition will join thousands of other homeless service providers across the nation in helping to determine the scope, size and characteristics of the homeless population. The final report from both the nationwide and local counts will be published later this year and will be used to determine funding for homeless services and public policy affecting this vulnerable population.

The 2009 Point In Time Count report for Central Florida revealed a 17% increase in the number of homeless persons in our region over the previous year. Any predictions on what the 2010 count will reveal?