The Shepherd’s House will be among several agencies attempting this week to get a more definitive answer to just how widespread homelessness is in the region, with a count of homeless individuals set for Wednesday.
This ‘Point in Time’ count is being conducted with human services and non-profit agencies in Surry, Stokes, Yadkin, Davie and Iredell counties.
Information provided by the count is required of ‘continuing of care’ agencies in efforts to seek funding. An accurate count helps to secure the maximum amount of available funding.
“The count will enable the community to be eligible and apply for funding, as groups work collaboratively to end homelessness,” said Mary Boyles, executive director of The Shepherd’s House. “Often homelessness is a by-product of other fundamental issues, including, but not limited to, untreated behavioral health issues, domestic violence, physical health issues and/or financial issues.”
Last year’s count totaled 85 homeless individuals in Surry, Stokes and Yadkin, 43 percent of which were on the street, 46 percent of whom were staying in emergency shelter and 11 percent in transitional housing.
Whereas the number of people housed in shelters and transitional housing is easily identifiable, the on the street portion can be a little trickier to count.
“We go out that night to the places where people are,” said Boyles. “We’ve got our teams together.”
Boyles said that she gets tips from the sheriff’s department, the police and from Emergency Medical Services. Homeless individuals can sometimes be found at the Starlite Motel or the Blue View Motel, utilizing vouchers given out by the Salvation Army or the police department.
“But what you’ve learned and what you’ve heard by working in a homeless shelter is the best source of information,” said Boyles. “I recently saw my first homeless camp: three tents made out of tarps and rope. I never would have thought something like that existed in Surry County.”
Boyles added an increasing phenomenon is people living in campers with no electricity and no water, which qualifies as homeless due to substandard living conditions.
“We were blessed to receive 700 backpacks filled with sundries from the Volunteer Center of Greensboro,” said Boyles. “We were the only non-profit in our area who received them. I don’t know the story behind it.”
Boyles said the bags will be used as an incentive to encourage individuals to come forward and be counted. The Shepherd’s House is sharing some of the bags with the other counties within their region during the day of the count. Chick-fil-A is also providing warm meals to the homeless who are counted on Jan. 31.
Items and funds donated for the count are needed by Monday. For more information, contact Mary Boyles at the Shepherd’s House at (336) 786-1420.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.