Services that could help make life a little easier for Joplin’s homeless residents were available Wednesday at Project Homeless Connect, part of the local Point-In-Time Count that takes place across the state.
“Twice a year we count the homeless,” said Robin Smith of the Economic Security Corp., a community action agency that serves low-income residents in Jasper, Newton, Barton and McDonald counties. “It is required that we do that for grants. It also is to bring awareness to homelessness.”
The survey provides the number of homeless people so that agencies such the Economic Security Corp., the Salvation Army and Lafayette House can report the numbers in grant applications seeking funds to provide housing, meals and other assistance to those without permanent homes.
“We’re counting everyone today, the sheltered, the unsheltered and those who come to Connect,” said Tammy Roberts of the ESC.
She said social service workers on Wednesday morning scoured the city to find camps where homeless people may have been staying and count them.
Few were found; most apparently had already gone to the Salvation Army for a meal or had checked in at Project Connect, held at Central Christian Center, 410 S. Virginia Ave., Roberts said.
In addition to the counting of those living in tents or abandoned buildings and those at Connect, surveys were sent to homeless shelters so that they could list their numbers for the count. Roberts said questions are asked about each of the people reported so that no one is counted twice.
Numbers from counts in the field, the event at Project Connect and the surveys will be tallied, with a total to be announced in about two weeks.
Surveys were sent to emergency shelters including Souls Harbor, the Neosho Crosslines Guest House, the Carthage Crisis Center and Children’s Haven, as well as transitional housing providers such as Lafayette House, The House Inc., the ESC and the Salvation Army.
A number of agencies were represented at Connect. Information could be obtained about getting a job through the Missouri Career Center, and about education programs such as Adult Education and Literacy, and Vatterott College. Cosmetology students at Vatterott gave free haircuts.
Assistance programs such as Catholic Charities, the United Way and Habitat for Humanity, and medical services provided by the Community Clinic were discussed.
“Hopefully they’ll get connected with some services that can help them,” Smith said.
That is what Jim Arthur was doing as he scanned the room to see what organizations were set up to give out information.
“I was just curious what they were offering,” he said. He said he has been staying at Souls Harbor for about five months because he has an illness that prevents him from working full time. He can work only part time, he said, and he is not making enough money to pay all the bills for a place to live on his own.
Miles Hoffman, another Souls Harbor resident, also was browsing the tables where handouts, such as bandages, were available. “I am just looking where I could find things I need,” he said.
The count also is held in other states.
In Pittsburg, Kan., the Southeast Kansas Community Action Program will hold its count from 10 a.m. to noon today at Pittsburg Nazarene Church, 805 E. Quincy St.
The event is not limited to those who are experiencing homelessness. Other residents are invited if they will fill out a survey regarding living arrangements.
A free sack lunch, bottle of water and pair of socks will be given to those who attend and complete a survey.
A year ago
LAST JANUARY, a total of 328 homeless people were counted in the Economic Security Corp.’s four-county area. That count comprised 35 people found to be living in outdoor camps, 82 in emergency shelters and 211 in transitional housing.