NJ Counts 2018 Measuring Homeless Population

Esequiel Farfan
Enero 25, 2018

In the Salvation Army building on Texas Avenue, more than a dozen agency tables distributed resources, clothing and food Wednesday to people in need.

Several agencies and volunteers are working side by side to get an up-to-date snapshot of homelessness in Jackson County.

The homeless count has been an annual event since 2005 and has been coordinated by LAHSA in different counties across the greater Los Angeles area.

"I was living under a bridge the first time I encountered these people", said John Mantooth, one of city's residents who regularly finds himself without a place to call home.

The survey tracks where people spent the night that night to help plan for services and prevent homelessness, said Ann Thoresen, the senior director of the Atlantic Homeless Alliance and Justice Involved Services at Jewish Family Service.

The count, along with demographic surveys, will help policymakers decide how to spend public money: $355 million per year raised by Los Angeles county from a special sales tax, and a $1.2 billion city bond issue to build housing for the homeless. The count, mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is so that federal dollars can be properly allocated to help fight homelessness. In the Upstate, the count is organized by SC Upstate Continuum of Care.

Mantooth said he showed up Wednesday to get a warm blanket and to share his appreciation for the volunteers who have made helping the homeless part of their lives.

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Ward said the volunteers also have bags of supplies to give to homeless people or to leave if it looks like someone has stayed in a location before.

She said the questionnaire also asks if they are alone or if they have other people staying with them and the length of how long they have been homeless. It also asks whether the person is homeless, in permanent housing, is at-risk or in an institution.

The homeless count in 2017 identified 8,532 homeless adults and children in 6,340 households around the state.

The final numbers for the 2018 count will be available and compiled in a report in the next few months. "So just like Celeste (Savage) was saying, both from a resources standpoint and the disaster response standpoint, we need to know how many people are outside", says Theo Williams, Salisbury's manager for housing and homelessness.

"HALO is a volunteer based organization, so we have to have the volunteers to cover if we have an influx of individuals", says HALO's executive director Celeste Savage. "What works best is when you walk with them side by side".

Erin Bowes, an outreach specialist with the Atlantic Homeless Alliance's Project Assistance Transition from Homelessness, said most clients are aware volunteers conduct the survey each year.

Over 100 volunteers signed up to help the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, or LAHSA, count the homeless population in the Santa Clarita Valley that, as a result of the 2017 homeless count, was set at 331.

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