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Point in time count to take place today

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By Beth Braden

Campbell County is one of 12 East Tennessee counties to take part in today’s Point in Time count, a look a the local homeless population.

By counting the homeless, the county becomes eligible for grant money to help fund permanent housing for the homeless.

“Our whole purpose in this is to cooperate with HUD to make us eligible for grant money for our housing and persons here in Campbell County,” said Debi Mikesell, one of the event’s organizers.

Trained volunteers began the count this morning just after midnight. They will turn out again this evening.

The volunteer teams check parks, laundromats, post offices, 24-hour businesses and other potential sites for the homeless to sleep at night. When the homeless are encountered, volunteers ask them to participate in a survey about their circumstances

The survey does not require a name or personal information, but it will ask about the person’s status as a veteran, their living situation, disabilities, and if they’re homeless due to domestic violence.

Last year, the unsheltered count homeless was 48. The sheltered homeless totaled 77. The precariously housed totaled 256.

Precariously housed people are those who are doubled up in one home with other people or families.

“If it wasn’t just for the kindness of another person, that person would be out on the street,” Mikesell said.

Once the Campbell County tally is taken, the numbers will be sent to the Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness. The coalition will then send the numbers to HUD. HUD then turns around and disperses grant money to counties through the coalition.

“Some of that money will be used just for housing only. It won’t all be used for utilities, it will come in different forms,” Mikesell said. “Usually we have the HUD numbers and everything back by March.”