Volunteers needed for annual count of homeless

Published 9:33 am Monday, January 9, 2017

In 2016, 160 people were counted as homeless in Warren County.

The yearly Point in Time Count of the homeless population in Warren County is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Jan. 25. Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. at Mountain of Faith Ministries.

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“We still need volunteers,” said Tina Hayward, founder/executive director of Mountain of Faith Ministries. “It’s important that the community can help with this.”

Volunteers will go out to designated areas in the city to talk to homeless people and give them a survey about their living situation and the experiences they have had in their life. The most important question is where the person slept the night before the survey.

“(Volunteers) can go out with survey clipboards, and they can survey and try to find those that are homeless, out unsheltered,” she said. “They can help us go to different sections of the city to see if there is any homeless person that they can get data from three survey sheets we have.”

The city is broken up into 10 sections for the survey, and Hayward said she sends more than one person to each place, which means she needs at least 20 volunteers.

“We request that people go out in pairs or more so they don’t go by themselves,” Heyward said.

Volunteers can also give nonvisual surveys where a person answers questions for someone else they know is homeless and hasn’t participated in the survey.

“They can give us some data about that person,” Hayward said.

After the survey, participants are given a coat, a hat, or gloves that have been donated throughout the year.

In addition to the surveys given across the city, Hayward will also leave surveys at all local shelters in advance and will need volunteers to pick them up on the day of the count.

Hayward said no matter what the weather looks like, the count won’t be postponed or canceled because it is scheduled for the same in day across central Mississippi.

“If it’s ugly weather like today, it’ll be hard,” Hayward said Thursday. “We still have to do it no matter what.”

All the data collected from the count goes to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“It gives them an estimate of how many homeless people are in our country. It also helps with funding, when they allocate funding out,” Hayward said. 

The count is important because it helps determine how much housing grant money is available for the area, how much money can be given to the public schools and how much money is given for mental health.

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating can call 601-501-4508.