The next few hours will be critical for the homeless in Campbell County as the Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness will conduct the 2009 Point in Time (PIT) Count. Last year the annual (PIT) Count estimated approximately 76 people were homeless in Campbell County.
This year the homeless will be counted again, as agencies attempt to gather data to try to discover why these people are displaced.
However, agencies located in counties throughout the United States will conduct the counts for their communities with the help of key individuals.
Community Health of East Tennessee, formally REACHS, Inc, a member of the coalition, will be conducting the count for Campbell County.
The official time to document the homeless in the area is tonight, from 12 p.m. to 11:59 a.m.
Community Health’s Phyllis Clingner said she will be contacting churches, the LaFollette Housing Authority (LHA), community members, law enforcement, school and park officials to count the number of homeless.
Agencies such as Food Life Ministry and the House of Hope, which assist people with temporary housing, will also be contacted.
“I am inclined to think there are several people living in their vehicles,” added Clingner.
Two apartments located at the LHA, were once used as emergency shelter for families or individuals without a place to stay. However, Clingner said with the loss of several pastors from churches who supported the apartments there has been no homeless housing in the county for over a year.
“The only housing for woman and children is the House of Hope and people can’t be housed unless they are victims of domestic violence,” said Clingner.
The number of homeless will be tabulated by Feb. 3. During the process of the count, reasons for homelessness such as foreclosures, drugs, alcohol, mental disabilities and returning veterans will be calculated as well.
“If we can target the reasons for homelessness then we can possibly get funding for a shelter,” said Clingner.
Along with the cause of being homeless, ages, number of family members and estimated time of being without a residence will also be deduced.
Clingner said an application for federal housing to assist the homeless has already been applied for. Community Health hopes to gain six apartments, of which two would be permanent placement for homeless families.
According to Clingner, there are two ways to be homeless, both sheltered and unsheltered.
Unsheltered homelessness involves sleeping in places not meant for human habitation such as cars, parks, sidewalks and abandoned buildings. Sheltered homelessness includes places like the House of Hope, emergency shelters, extended motel stays and sleeping on a friend or relative’s couch.
Any person or family living in these or other inhabitable conditions during the 24-hour count will be included.
“We are going to try to pull these numbers together as accurately as we can,” said Clingner.
According to the coalition, the purpose of the count is done to better understand the causes of homelessness in rural areas, to record annual changes and identify service providers.