Homeless coalition prepares for annual count

Homeless coalition prepares for annual count
Homeless Coalition of North Texas looks to try to lower homelessness. (Source: Jesse Canales)

WICHITA FALLS, TX (TNN) - The Homeless Coalition of North Texas met on Tuesday to prepare for its annual point-in-time count, where they conduct a survey to see how widespread homelessness is in Wichita and 16 other surrounding counties. The coalition is made up of several non-profits who serve Texoma’s homeless community.

Volunteers will wear purple shirts on January 24 as they count the homeless community in shelters and those who live on the streets.

Steve Sparks, Wichita Falls Faith Mission CEO, said it helps non-profits locate gaps in services.

“All the different demographics that come from this count help us adjust our services,” Sparks said.

Members of the coalition said they had complications in the past when they try to get an accurate count.

“We work pretty well in our community as far as the shelters but getting out there with some of the people who are living either out in the streets or the camps is where we struggle,” Lisa Choate Children’s Aid Society Program Director said. “Sometimes our homeless population is hesitant when we start asking questions.”

Choate said it is also difficult to identify homelessness.

“The face of homelessness really looks different for different places and different people," Choate said. "Often for youth, who are homeless, they maybe seeking out places to sleep. That may look like a friend of one of your children trying to spend the night and not go home.”

Sparks said a precise count is key.

“The more accurate this count is the more [some non-profits within the coalition] are able to justify the federal state grants that are written by Nortex and some of the other agencies in town,” Sparks said.

Last year, the coalition estimated there were less than 300 homeless people in our community.

For more information about the count, you can contact Nortex Planning Commission at (940) 322-5281.

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