West Texas Homeless Network Needs your Help

By LORETTA FULTON

In normal times, Thursday, Jan. 28, would be the date for the annual Point in Time survey conducted locally by the West Texas Homeless Network.

But 2021, at least in the early months, isn’t “normal times.” The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, curtailing in-person and face-to-face activities. Due to a change in the way the scaled-down PIT survey will be conducted this year, volunteers won’t be needed.

“This year we’re keeping it as closed down as possible,” said Madi Hutson, coalition coordinator with the West Texas Homeless Network, which operates out of the United Way office.

But volunteers are needed for other projects sponsored by the WTHN, such as cleanups in areas where homeless people gather. Also donations of masks, personal protective equipment, and bottled water are needed. Anyone interested in volunteering for a future cleanup day or in donating items can contact Hutson at madi@unitedwayabilene.org

The annual survey of the homeless population in a community is required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for agencies like WTHN that provide a continuum of care for the homeless.

In the past, volunteers have been assigned to time slots in a 24-hour period to make contact with sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. This year, instead of volunteers hitting the street, a survey will be done of people already in the system who are sheltered at Hope Haven, the Salvation Army, Noah Project, veterans services emergency housing, or Our House, sponsored by BCFS family services. Despite the change, Hutson doesn’t expect a huge difference in numbers.

“I think we’ll see it’s similar,” she said. 

Last year’s Point In Time survey was conducted on Jan. 23, 2020. The survey found 116 individuals who were experiencing homelessness, according to figures submitted to the Texas Homeless Network. Of those, 113 were adults age 18 and over. Three were under the age of 18. 

Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene

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