Volunteers from the Big Bend Homeless Coalition are spending part of this week conducting their yearly Health and Housing survey. This “point in time” count of homelessness is facing additional complications this year because of the weather.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the point in time count take place in the final ten days of January each year. But local agencies organize and carry out the counts independently. Florida agencies have the flexibility to count over the course of three days, but the Big Bend Homeless Coalition’s Stephanie Beckingham says the cold front rolling through the Tallahassee area will impact the numbers
“I suspect that this year our unsheltered count will probably be lower than it was the previous year, because of the rain and then because of the cold tomorrow night more people are likely to go take that one night to stay with a friend or family, if they have some money maybe go check into a hotel, or for folks who don’t have any other options, maybe go into the cold night shelter,” Beckingham said.
Cold weather and other factors can put parts of the homeless population out of reach, leading to artificially low figures. This is dangerous because the survey helps determine the funding homeless agencies will receive in the coming year. The Big Bend Homeless Coalition will release results from the counts Friday.