An annual physical count of homeless individuals is used to gauge the number of persons or families in a community who meet the federal definition of “homeless” as set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The count is accomplished in partnership with community agencies, churches, local government, law enforcement and volunteers, by the St. Johns County Continuum of Care who coordinates the count.
Kassy Guy-Johanessen reported to Historic City News that this year’s count surveyed 445 individuals experiencing homelessness in St. Johns County. The “Point-in-Time” count occurred on Thursday January 26, 2017 and the long-awaited results were released today.
“With the methodology used in this study, our community is able to assess how our efforts are impacting homelessness. There is no doubt that the Point-in-Time count is exceptionally important,” said Carl W. Falconer, Regional Director at LSF Health Systems and Chairman of the St. Johns County Continuum of Care. “Our Board committed to do more than just count individuals who are homeless. Face-to-face interviews provided an opportunity to capture the critical information needed to take a more comprehensive approach to ending homelessness.”
THE SURVEY SAYS —
Of the total population surveyed (445 individuals), 260 were male and 183 were female. Two did not identify their gender, or reported themselves as transgendered.
There were 350 adult respondents 18 years of age, or older. There were 42 families identified with at least one adult and one child living together. Forty US veterans, 33 of whom are unsheltered, were also identified. Of the 445 homeless, 266 live unsheltered. The total unsheltered homeless population is 212 households, and 266 people.
In St Johns County, there are currently 240 year-round-beds designated to provide emergency shelter to individuals who are homeless, at risk, or in domestic violence situations. The utilization of those resources is reported to be 95% of capacity.
- Communities, like St. Johns County that receive federal funding for homeless services, are required to conduct the comprehensive homeless shelter and street count at least every two years to maintain funding eligibility, and are encouraged to conduct the PIT count every year.
- Nationwide, the count takes place during the same 10-day period each year, providing communities with the information necessary to assess the scale of homelessness, the need for homeless services, and, possible trends in homelessness over time.
- Unlike the PIT count, which is only a one-day snapshot, an ongoing information database, the “Homeless Management Information System”, allows the county to track homelessness throughout the year. In St. Johns County, there were over 4,000 families with children, veterans, men and women, who began being tracked when they sought out homeless services locally during the past year.
“Using the PIT count, and other resources like the Homeless Management Information System, providers in the community can work together to address homelessness. We are better able to assess needs, and then identify causes; like the lack of affordable housing. By doing so, we can determine how best to address the quality of life for everyone in our community,” said Falconer. “There is still much work to be done but we are heading in the right direction.”
Home Again St. Johns, Inc., is the lead agency for the St. Johns County Continuum of Care. Flagler Hospital is the lead agency for the Homeless Management Information System.