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Homeless Count to Take Place in MO

PHOTO: Volunteers will fan out across Missouri this week in an effort to count the number of homeless people in the state. Photo credit: stockphotosforfree.com.
PHOTO: Volunteers will fan out across Missouri this week in an effort to count the number of homeless people in the state. Photo credit: stockphotosforfree.com.
January 29, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The bitter cold won't stop volunteers across Missouri from taking to the streets over the next few days in an effort to get a handle on the number of homeless people in the state.

They'll be counting those in shelters and seeking out the unsheltered, who may be living in parks, under bridges and in cars.

Evie Craig, president and chief executive of "reStart," a housing and support services group in Kansas City, said the annual "Point in Time" count showed those who serve this population an important snapshot of the effectiveness of past and current programs, as well as where future resources should be directed.

"There's been a reduction nationally, as well as here in the state of Missouri, in the number of veterans that are homeless," she said. "So, we are really looking at, 'What kind of progress are we making?' "

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that the count be done any time during the last 10 days in January, by any agency that receives funding for emergency shelter, housing and other supportive services for those who are homeless.

Craig said it's difficult to predict what the count will show. However, she added, she expects a few trends to continue.

"During the most recent recession, we saw dramatic increases in the number of first-time homeless," she said. "One thing that we anticipate that we may continue to see is an increased number of families, and we certainly have seen that in the past."

The 2013 count concluded that more than 8,500 people in Missouri were homeless, down slightly from the previous year.

More information on reStart is online at restartinc.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO