Local non-profits count the homeless

Local non-profits count the homeless

(KWES) - Organizations across the country will be going out to count the homeless. It's all in an effort to address the issue and better serve the community.

"We try to collect a yearly census of how many people are truly experiencing homelessness," said Erika Thomas, Executive Director of Odessa Links Inc. "It just kind of gives us a better idea as far as what our homeless population looks like and how we are doing as a community in addressing that population."

Cities across the country participate in the annual Point in Time survey. The survey analyzes the number, demographics, as well as how a person becomes homeless.

In 2016, there were about 91 homeless people in Odessa and about 220 in Midland. Of those in Odessa, 39.3 percent were homeless due to financial reasons.

"You have your street homeless, those who are out of on the street and are unsheltered, then you have those that are in programs that are sheltered, but they are still all considered homeless," Linda Hamblin.

Hamblin is the Program Director of Midland Fair Havens and serves as chair on the Midland Homeless Coalition.

"We want to have housing for those who choose to be housed," said Hamblin.

Hamblin said the state of the economy and unemployment rate plays a large role in how many are on the streets, as well as the availability of affordable housing.

"The last few years, it's been somewhat stable. If there is affluence in the oil field, sometimes one person will be able to get a job and will take in several people," said Hamblin. "We find the people and we are able to speak with them and really see where they are coming from and whats going on. That gives us a better idea of what we need to do in Midland to serve those people. What are our gaps in services?"

Organizations will go to shelters like the Salvation Army to count and hand out surveys. Church Under the Bridge will go out to camps around town.

The data for Midland and Odessa will then be sent to the Texas Homeless Network, who will interpret the results.

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