By Dr. Chad Audi
By now, you have probably received your 2010 U.S. Census form in the mail. And as I wrote in an earlier blog, one of the big challenges this year is to count the nation’s homeless. The U.S. Census Bureau is holding a homeless count program called “Make the Homeless Count,” on March 29 through 31. Over the three nights, enumerators will count people living in shelters and temporary housing, those eating at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, and others who are staying at outdoor locations.
Cities across the country are holding events to coincide with the census effort and help boost the homeless count. For example, Los Angeles is collecting donated socks and food that will be given to the homeless on March 30. Indeed, it is important that no one is overlooked in this year’s census. Not only do the final numbers impact how much federal funding states receive and determine political representation for communities, but the count will also raise awareness about the prevalence of homelessness across the country. Some of those federal funds are allocated to homeless assistance programs. So it is imperative that an accurate count is taken and that we do all we can to make sure no one is left out.
Social service agencies such as ours, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), are being encouraged by the U.S. Census Bureau to inform and guide those individuals who look to us for information and assistance. It may mean explaining the importance of the Census to a homeless person who is reluctant to take part. Or it could mean providing information on areas where homeless people are known to sleep outside. Or assuring the homeless that the results are confidential.
It’s all a part of what we do — work to improve the lives and welfare of others. Making the homeless count will ultimately result in getting more people off the street.