ANOKA, Minn. – (Jan. 25, 2018) – This week, volunteers spent a day walking around the county looking for people who are homeless.
“Every year, HUD asks communities to around the country to count those folks that they know who are dealing with homelessness,” says Anoka County’s Housing Program Coordinator, Michele Reid.
The annual point in time homeless count happens every January. Reid in charge of Anoka County’s count, and in charge of finding the volunteers that do the counting.
A training for these volunteers was held this week. Volunteers are community members or employees of organizations that might deal with homeless populations. Patrick Morley works at a local food shelf and will be volunteering for the count this year.
“It’s driven by the simple reality that housing is critical to stability,” says Morley, explaining why he got involved.
Last year, more than 150 people in Anoka County were identified as homeless during the count, with 48 of them living outside. Another 104 people were counted living in shelters last year. And another 252 people didn’t have stable housing, and were staying with friends or family. There are a lot of different ways that people can experience homelessness, and this count hopes to find as many as possible.
“In recent past, we’ve had folks be found at various bus stations, underpasses and parking ramps,” says Reid. “A lot of the time you don’t see folks who are homeless, because in the suburbs we find that most folks are doubled up.”
Doubled-up, as in living with a friend, or couch hopping, or staying with family.
“It looks invisible because they are homeless, but they’re doubled up. They have a roof over their head, but it’s a very unpredictable roof,” says Morley.
The state is really interested in finding out who is doubled up, in that perspective.,” says Reid. “Other places of folks that are literally homeless – you’ll see people that’ll ride the trains all night, or ride the buses all night just as a place to stay warm.”
The results of the count will be reported to HUD and Congress and will also determine the amount of grants awarded to different communities. And all of this data is valuable for that.
“Increasing awareness and letting people know that we are doing what we can to bring more resources to the region,” says Reid.