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Homeless count survey soon

Posted: January 17, 2014 4:34 p.m.
Updated: January 20, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires all of the Continuum of Care organizations who receive funding for homeless services and housing to attempt to find and survey individuals and families who are homeless in January of each year.

Kershaw County is part of the Midlands Area Consortium for the Homeless (MACH). Throughout the country, the count is conducted at the same time in late January. Urban areas such as Greenville, Columbia and Charleston do a street count using many trained volunteers and social service professionals while their emergency shelters capture the survey information in the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) database.

Rural counties like Kershaw County rely on agencies and organizations who serve homeless persons (soup kitchens, mental health centers, community medical clinics, community action agencies, school districts, etc.) to identify and complete the survey form. Trained volunteers are utilized to survey homeless individuals at known locations where these individuals congregate and/or live outside. The count will take place Thursday, for a 24 hour period of time.

The HUD’s definition of a homeless person or family is:

"An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, meaning:

(1) An individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport or camping ground;

(2) An individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing and hotels/motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state or local government programs for low-income individuals); or

(3) An individual who is exiting an institution where he or she resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution."

Unfortunately, the HUD did not include families or individuals living doubled up in very crowded and unstable conditions as being homeless for the purpose of the count.

Also not counted were those individuals living in motels because of uncertain employment opportunities or inability to find affordable housing they could maintain.

During the 24 hour period of the count in January 2013, Kershaw County agencies and volunteers were able to complete surveys on 43 persons with no permanent place to live at that time and 7 persons living at New Day on Mill transitional housing program for a total of 50. This is only a snapshot of the homeless population as there are many more in Kershaw County who do not have a place to call home. Community members who know someone without a home on Thursday night should urge that individual to call or visit the United Way of Kershaw County (UWKC) at 432-0951 or New Day on Mill at 432-5456 to complete a short, confidential survey to ensure they will be included in the HUD Homeless Count.

For more information about homelessness in the Midlands, visit www.midlandshomeless.org or www.schomeless.org.

(Information submitted by Marie Sheheen, Housing Coordinator at UWKC)

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