The count, also held at several other locations frequented by the homeless, was a kind of mini-census during which participants filled out a survey that asked them how they lost their housing, whether they have a child or a disability and how long they’ve been homeless, among other demographic information.Read the full article:
On Wednesday night, law enforcement officers around the county were to do an observational count and area hospitals were to do a count of the homeless in their emergency rooms.
The effort is sponsored by Local Initiatives Support Corp., a nonprofit that coordinates the county’s affordable housing partnerships. Michelle Schneider, LISC assistant program officer, said the count is important because it provides assistance agencies with demographic and other information that enables them to better help the homeless population.
“We’ve got to keep in mind, though, that this is just a snapshot,” she said. “There almost certainly are more homeless people in the county than what the numbers will say.”
Preliminary numbers won’t be out until the end of February, she said. The count in January 2009 found 985 homeless people in Kalamazoo County.
A report released last year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires a point-in-time count to be conducted every two years, showed the Kalamazoo County’s homeless population increased by 40 percent, to 862 people, from January 2007 to January 2008.
Schneider said Wednesday that she couldn’t speculate on whether the numbers collected by LISC will be higher than last January, but did say a rash of evictions and foreclosures in 2009 likely forced many people onto the streets.
The 2010 Census will provide a much more accurate count of the county’s homeless population, she said.