SAGINAW, Michigan (WJRT) - (1/25/2017) - On Wednesday homeless shelters and service providers in Saginaw County participated in a county-wide "Point In Time: count of homeless persons. The information they gather is crucial in the the information is used by HUD to report to Congress and to determine regional allocations of homeless funding.
ABC 12's Amy Hybels joined one of the teams as they hit the streets of Saginaw Wednesday night to try and identify homeless individuals in hopes of securing funding for emergency shelters and support services in the County.
The agencies count both homeless persons in shelters and homeless persons living in places unfit for habitation including the outdoors and abandoned buildings.
Homeless Prevention Coordinator Joanie Covert provided last minute directions to those assisting with Wednesday night's homeless count...
Survey forms will provide HUD with the information they need to determine regional funding.
The eight teams hitting the streets "suit up" in bright florescent hats.
With more than two million dollars in funding at stake ...The count of homeless persons is something organizers take seriously:
"This is big, yes it is big, it's one of the biggest events that we do," noted Homeless Prevention Coordinator Joanie Covert.
The first stop the team we accompanied hit?
This lot filled with abandoned vehicles...
Rocky Archangeli moves on to the underpass...a social worker for county mental health...Archangeli says this count is about more than just numbers for him:
"If you can make a difference in somebody's life early enough, it'll break that cycle - help improve the world," he said. Archangeli also points out that the majority of the folks he helps are families.
And so the search continues.
The teams from both the morning and evening shifts were able to identify 13 unsheltered homeless people and about 325 sheltered homeless folks for a total of 338...the last time they took a count --over the summer--they identified 349 homeless individuals.
The information collected is required for both federal and state grants which fund emergency shelters and support services.
While Covert says the numbers have dropped dramatically over the last six years, shelters are routinely overpopulated.