Tag Archives: Point-in-Time Count

Homeless Count

by Dr. Chad Audi

It’s that time of year again. Time to get a count of the nation’s homeless. The 2016 Point-in- Time Count just took place across the country. Tens of thousands of volunteers went out one night in January looking for the men, women and children who call the streets their home.

In addition to keeping a count, the volunteers attempt to get the homeless to seek shelter and assistance. But, if they refuse and insist on their freedom, the volunteers provide them with life-saving items such as blankets, sleeping bags, hats, gloves, socks, food, and hygiene kits.

The homeless who do accept the offer are taken to shelters like ours, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). They can warm up, get a hot meal and shower, clean clothes and a bed to sleep in overnight. However, some of the homeless return to the streets the next morning with no interest in finding transitional and permanent housing or treating their mental health and substance abuse issues. For some, a fear of authority and obeying rules sends them back to their outdoor home.

In addition to searching the streets, the Point-in-Time Count volunteers look for the homeless in shelters and vehicles parked in 24-hour store parking lots. Any place where the homeless may go to hide from the cold and authorities.

The purpose of this one day count is to get a better picture of the extent of homelessness in this country. The data is collected and used for the allocation of federal grants to help provide housing and case management services for the homeless.

Everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, and that’s why we at DRMM work so diligently to provide the homeless with the tools they need to permanently escape life on the streets and become productive citizens sharing in the American Dream.

Dr. Chad Audi


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Detroit’s Homeless Population

by Dr. Chad Audi

Detroit recently made history when its state-appointed emergency manager filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, making it the largest city ever to file for bankruptcy. As Detroit works through this historic financial crisis, we also continue to attack homelessness in the city that I call home.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development just released its “Point-in-Time Count” of the nation’s homeless. The numbers are based on a count made by volunteers who fanned out across the country on a single night in January of this year.
The federal tally indicates the number of homeless in Detroit dropped less than 1-percent from the last count in 2010. The news was much better for the state of Michigan, which recorded an 11.7-percent drop. And, the entire nation saw the number of homeless drop 6.1-percent over the past three years.

On the surface, Detroit’s financial challenges can help explain why the needle barely moved on the number of homeless in the city. The unemployment rate is still high. In some cases, people are working but they’re not making enough money to maintain a home, pay for utilities, and put food on the table every night. And others have been on the streets and in an addiction for so long that they do not have the ability to turn their lives around without receiving significant supportive services.

Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we understand that we must help the whole person when he or she comes to our doors. It’s not enough to provide the homeless with emergency shelter, food and clothing. We must ease them into transitional and permanent housing, so they can learn how to maintain a household. And, we must address the issues that are keeping them from becoming productive, tax-paying citizens. That’s why DRMM offers substance abuse treatment, education, jobs training, and skills building that will help our clients qualify for jobs or pursue their dream career.

It’s difficult to determine the accuracy of the federal government’s homeless numbers, since the point-in-time count is primarily limited to the homeless who are visible in the streets, parks, and shelters. What about those who may have found a temporary place to sleep that night or who may have been trying to stay warm in an abandoned house?

However, one thing is for sure; Detroit, the state of Michigan, and the nation will need financial support if we are to meet President Obama’s goal of eliminating homelessness by the end of 2020. Currently, congressional budget cuts are reducing the amount of funds that agencies like DRMM receive to address homelessness. A 5-percent cut in aid to emergency housing and shelter programs is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2014.

Let’s encourage Congress to reverse that budget cut, so that our progress on ending homelessness is not reversed.

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Counting the Homeless

By Dr. Chad Audi

Later this month, the nation’s homeless population will be counted in a mass effort required every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Called the “Point-in-Time Count,” volunteer teams will fan out after dark in cities across the country to locate, interview and count the homeless who are living in the streets and in shelters. Based on the findings, HUD will set funding levels for shelters and other agencies assisting the homeless.

Here in Detroit, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) takes an active role in the nationwide count. Working in partnership with the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND), we are providing volunteers and a staging area for them before they spread out over Detroit. Numerous other service agencies and community and civic leaders will also participate.

This year’s count will undoubtedly shed light on whether the economic recession has resulted in a rise in homelessness. For the first time, volunteers will take a detailed census of homeless veterans and unaccompanied children under the age of eighteen. It also provides an opportunity to inform the homeless of the assistance that is available to them and to distribute care packages containing items such as food, blankets, socks and hygiene products.

As an agency working with the homeless, next week’s count is extremely important. We have seen an increase in the people we serve, so an accurate count will help us get the necessary resources to address the issue more effectively and permanently. The data that is collected through the interviews will also help us promote real change in people’s lives.

Volunteers are still needed across the country to help in the count. Experienced leaders will accompany the teams. Contact your county or local service agencies to find out how you can get involved. Every person counts!

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