Annual “Point-in-Time Count” aims to address needs of homeless population

JOPLIN, Mo.–The cold temperatures didn’t stop Tammy Walker and others at economic security from participating in this year’s “point-in-time” count.

“We do our point in time count where we go out and try to find people living unsheltered, living outside to get information from them and try to provide resources.”

Walker says they do this in two ways, a survey for area shelters, and teams locating and speaking with those experiencing homelessness.

“The shelter count. A survey will go to the local emergency shelters and transitional housing programs that house people on the night of the 26th. So that’s a separate survey, and then we have seven teams that we have divided up into to cover Jasper and Newton County to find people that are living outside unsheltered.”

Walker led one of those teams and would drive to areas that many experiencing homelessness usually populates. Once they arrive, the team speaks with them and tries to understand the best ways to help.

“We’ll go out and we’ll ask if we can ask them some questions. we use that information locally for planning to help leverage, you know, local funding, private state and federal funding for programs that can help house people. and then just, you know, the biggest reason is to go out and connect with people, connect with the people, find out what their needs are, find out what programs they might be interested in, and give them information.”

Walker says many living out on the streets are unaware of the many services offered to them, the point in time count aims to fix that.

“Sometimes it just takes multiple times going out and talking to someone overtime for them to be comfortable enough to maybe engage in services.”

Meaning they’re making an impact before collecting all of their data.