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Iowa Homeless Count Gets Underway Tonight

Just over 3,000 homeless people were counted during the 2016 Point-in-Time Count in Iowa. (Pixabay)
Just over 3,000 homeless people were counted during the 2016 Point-in-Time Count in Iowa. (Pixabay)
January 25, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – Volunteers in communities across Iowa will undertake the daunting task Wednesday of counting the number of people they can find without permanent homes. The annual Point-in-Time Count is required for communities that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

According to Julie Eberbach, associate director of the Institute for Community Alliances in Des Moines, it is the most comprehensive tally of both unsheltered and sheltered homeless individuals.

"This includes all the agencies, including domestic violence service providers, who wouldn't ordinarily report in the same manner," she said. "It includes people that are living out on the street, to the degree that folks are able to be found and counted, and surveyed. It's the most aggressive effort that we make."

Just over 3,000 homeless people were counted during last year's point-in-time tally in Iowa. It is a slight drop from 2015 numbers, but a 12-percent increase since 2007.

Eberbach said community groups organizing the counts can always use a helping hand.

"You can be involved by assisting with the count if there's something being organized in your area," she added. "You can contribute hand warmers or clean socks, protein bars or bottles of water, things like that that can be provided to folks that are living out during the period in which they're being surveyed and interviewed."

HUD uses the data to monitor trends over time, and the numbers are submitted to Congress for an annual report on homelessness.

Eberbach said local agencies also use the information to monitor the effectiveness of assistance programs for people who are homeless.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA