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Point-in-Time Count Provides Snapshot of Homelessness

April 27, 2012

Every year during the last week of January Midland County Continuum of Care does a “Point-in-Time” (PIT) count to gauge the extent of homelessness in the local area.

The most recent count, taken January 25, 2012, found 401 individuals in Midland County either staying in emergency shelters such as Shelter House and Open Door/House of Mercy, “couch-surfing”, doubling up with family or friends, living in a place not meant for human habitation, or being evicted.

Another 116 people responded “other” or did not specify when asked about their housing arrangements.

The single-night count, based on data reported by local social service agencies related to Continuum, includes both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. It also gives a breakdown of special populations such as the chronically homeless and veterans.

By far the largest single group are those who double up with family or friends, about 70% of the total. Nearly one in five of those counted has been homeless for more than a year.

A few more men than women are reported in the count. Children (those under 18) constitute about 30% of the total.

The most significant factors related to the lack of shelter are job or money loss (45%), domestic violence (25%), and substance abuse (14%).

According to Amanda Johnson, housing resource specialist at Midland Area Homes, “The Point in Time count is used in a variety of ways to help the Continuum of Care and service providers determine the types of services and programs needed in our community. It allows us to see the characteristics of the current homeless population and helps us predict the characteristics and amount of homeless that Midland county encounters within the year.”

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) requires that local communities conduct the census.

Midland County Continuum of Care is a united effort of more than 20 private and public agencies working to prevent homelessness by providing housing-related services to those who are homeless or living in substandard housing.

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