“Every Person Counts.” That statement is so very true. Especially when we think about the tens of thousands of homeless people living in the Detroit area. They count too. In fact, “Every Person Counts” is the name of a citywide campaign to literally count the homeless. The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), Homeless Action Network of Detroit, University of Detroit Mercy’s Leadership Development Institute, and several other groups are involved in the initiative. The count helps determine government funding for homeless services.
While the required count will take place in January, there was a preliminary count taken this summer. Teams of people fanned out around the Detroit area, locating and counting the homeless. From grassy fields to abandoned buildings to cardboard houses beneath freeway bridges, team members went in search of the homeless to ask them basic and detailed questions about their background, health and family status. The counters passed out bottled water, personal hygiene kits and gave the homeless phone numbers to shelters and other service providers.
Counting the homeless is important in planning services that meet their needs. Counting the homeless also raises public awareness about this population’s plight. Although DRMM services nearly 1,300 people each day, there are still thousands of disadvantaged and addicted people who call the streets home. Some choose to remain there; others may not know where to get help. Some are visible to the eye; others remain out of sight. DRMM tries to reach out to all of them, because we believe that every person counts.