Homeless count in Bell County set for Thursday

Temple and Killeen have launched the 2022 count of the area’s homeless population.
Temple and Killeen have launched the 2022 count of the area’s homeless population.(Megan Vanselow)
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 8:30 AM CST
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - The City of Killeen and the City of Temple are taking part in the annual Point-In-Time Homeless Count Thursday, in person, after last years count was forced virtual because of pandemic concerns.

The Point-In-Time count is a census of all homeless people staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and unsheltered locations (outdoor encampments, streets, cars and other places not meant for habitation) in the community. Cities nationwide are participating in similar counts and reporting the data to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“In order to be able to address homelessness you need to know where and approximately how many homeless are in your community,” Rashawn Smith, Bell Counties Point-In-Time Leader, said Monday.

Over the course of 24 hours, trained volunteers will survey people using a new mobile app.

“It also gives us some insight as to why or how individuals have become homeless, a lot of that data is collected in the questionnaire,” Smith said.

The data collected should be published in the spring in a report filed to the Texas Homeless Network.

Smith says this year’s count is especially important after the pandemic forced the 2021 count to be virtual, and only include people living in shelters.

“HUD has advised us that the count must go forth this year, of course with [pandemic] precautions,” Smith explained.

The 2020 PIT Count located more than twice the number of homeless people than were documented in the 2021 virtual count in Bell and Coryell Counties with totals of 331 people and 151 people respectively.

“We can’t go two years without acknowledging that homelessness is continuing to rise and be a problem,” Smith said to the 2022 count’s importance.

The short survey conducted Thursday will provide key data on gender, age, ethnicity, veteran status and what led the person to homelessness.

Results from the PIT Count will be publicly available and the cities will use the results to improve their response to homelessness.

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