WICHITA, Kan., Jan. 18, 2022 — Estimating the number of Americans who don’t have safe and stable housing requires seeking out and counting those who are currently homeless in communities across the United States. The annual Point-In-Time Homeless Count is a national effort undertaken once a year by professionals and volunteers. The results are used to identify resources needed to address the issue, make local funding decisions, study trends in homelessness and increase awareness about those who don’t have shelter.
United Way of the Plains leads Impact ICT – Continuum of Care (CoC), the community coalition working to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. Impact ICT addresses barriers to permanent housing and manages housing assistance resources from federal grant funding. United Way of the Plains and its partner agencies will work with volunteers to conduct the 2022 Point-In-Time Homeless Count for the Wichita and Sedgwick County area on Thursday, Feb. 24, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Originally scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 27, the initiative has been moved to February due to concerns about increased COVID-19 infection rates. The count results are also reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for their national database and as part of their grant requirements.
Cole Schnieders of United Way of the Plains manages Impact ICT CoC and is leading this year’s data collection efforts. Schnieders says it’s imperative for the coalition to collect information and share what they learn. “All the agencies who partner with us do a tremendous job with this annual effort. But we also need volunteers to assist us. We’ve moved it to February since we think that will make it easier for volunteers to participate. We’re hoping the COVID-19 infection rates in our region will be much lower by that time. Every volunteer is paired with an experienced professional, and volunteers are trained on how to approach individuals who are homeless and collect the data from them in a caring and considerate manner. We’ll need 20 volunteers to complete the work. It’s a rewarding experience because you provide a personal touchpoint and gain a better understanding of the needs of these individuals and the barriers they face. We speak with them face–to–face and gather information that can be used to eventually get them into a safer and more stable environment. Those interested in volunteering can sign up on United Way’s volunteer website. We’re also encouraging anyone who sees someone who appears to be homeless to share that information with our 211 service on that day so that we can be sure they’re included in our count. They can dial 2-1-1 or text 898-211 with this information.”
The last Point-In-Time Homeless Count in Wichita-Sedgwick County was conducted Jan. 29, 2020. Results of that year’s Wichita-Sedgwick County Point-In-Time Homeless Count showed a 4.4 percent increase in overall homelessness. A total number of 619 homeless persons were counted in 2020, compared to 593 in 2019. The count was not conducted in 2021 due to various service disruptions caused by the pandemic. Check this link for more information about the 2020 count and to find helpful definitions. Visit the website to learn more about the work of Impact ICT CoC.
Reports about past counts conducted across the nation can be found on the HUD EXCHANGE website at hudexchange.info.
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United Way of the Plains is a nonprofit and for-impact organization that focuses on health, education, financial stability and basic needs – the building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community. Our mission is to improve lives by harnessing the caring power of our community to advance the common good in south central Kansas. Follow us on these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.