**UPDATE -- The PIT count was rescheduled to overnight Feb. 6, due to the extreme winter weather this week.**
In Calhoun County, we have 1,199 homeless persons residing on the street, in emergency shelters or in places not fit for human habitation. From 2015 to 2017, we have seen a 7% increase in homelessness mainly in families with children and veterans. Nicole DuPont, The Coordinating Council’s Operations Lead states, “Homelessness is a local as well as national crisis. We have a serious affordable housing problem and with 47.6% of our population paying more than 30% of their income on rent, we have a large portion of our population that are financially vulnerable. The high cost of rent does not leave enough money for other expenses like food, transportation, or health concerns. It also leaves this population with little to no savings and a single crisis away from possible homelessness.” The upcoming Point-in-Time Count gives us an opportunity to create awareness around the crisis in our community.
The Point-In-Time (PIT) is a count of people who are unsheltered (found in streets, parks, abandoned buildings, etc.) and sheltered (day/evening and domestic violence shelters). An interview is conducted with these individuals and/or families to gather basic information which provides us with a snapshot of our homeless population.
The PIT Count is an annual federal mandate by the Housing of Urban Development (HUD). This gives a nation-wide picture of the homeless population. The information that is gathered allows our community, state, and federal governments to have a visual for future planning to end homelessness.
The count takes place this year from sunset January 30th to sunrise January 31st. During the count, a form is distributed that individuals and/or families are able to fill out themselves. This gives us more accurate information as to their situation and demographics. Through this critical information, we are able to determine the scope of need and target resources.
We provide a service count by providing meals at the SHARE Center and we will be offering meals at the Emmett Street Missionary Church (Battle Creek), and Salvation Army (Battle Creek), as well as doing a street count.
Suzi Gore of the Salvation Army has been a participant in
PIT Count for 13 years, she says “It’s necessary to see how many homeless we have in our community and there have been fluctuations in our homelessness. Over the last two years, we have served more homeless families with children and veterans. Our shelters are just not big enough to house our homeless and capture the increase we are seeing.“ Through the street count we provide personal hygiene kits, snack kits, hand warmers and blankets to those that are found. If immediate assistance is needed, our volunteers are empowered to help with agency support. We ensure the privacy of the individuals/families we encounter as their confidentiality is of the utmost importance to us. For this year’s count, we have volunteers that are assisting with the service count and our street count will be led by our partners at the Kalamazoo Community Mental Health agency. We organize the street count in sets of teams. We also have homeless volunteers that assist each team in finding camps within our community.
The PIT Count is very important to understanding our homeless population, accessing those who would otherwise not seek services, identifying trends, being responsive to special sub-populations, as well as giving us the opportunity to reach out and offer services/resources that are available. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to establish trust and help our most vulnerable population.
Special thanks to all of our volunteers and agencies who are taking the time to help with the PIT count.
If you would like to donate a blanket, you can drop it off at the Share Center at 120 Grove Street, Battle Creek, MI.