Point-in-Time Count Scheduled for January 27
In Shawnee County in January 2014, 403 people were counted as homeless, including in emergency shelters, in transitional housing and those who were unsheltered. The data is staggering.
This year, the count will take place between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27. The count is set by the Federal government, and is one of the requirements that enables the Topeka/Shawnee County Continuum of Care to receive about $2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for use on programs targeting homelessness.
What Homelessness Looks Like
Homeless programs in our community recognize different kinds of homelessness:
- Those in area shelters. In 2013 alone, the Topeka Rescue Mission sheltered more than 2,100 different people and provided nearly 548,000 meals. Shelters in Topeka exist to fill a gap in housing, and usually aren’t meant for long-term stays. The Point-in-Time count will gather numbers from Topeka shelters and agencies.
- Squatters seek out un-occupied buildings for short-term shelter, or may stay under a bridge or in a tent. These people usually don’t have access to electricity or water.
- Those staying on a friend’s couch. Couch surfing is a new kind of homelessness being identified in area schools. Sleeping in a car or on a different couch every night has its own set of mental and academic challenges for adults and youth. Within the Topeka Public School District, 443 students are considered homeless, and that number changes daily.
How You Can Help
Volunteers aren’t needed at this, but you can donate to the cause. Volunteers distribute care packages to the people they count. We may include socks, gloves, hats, and toiletries such as shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Drop off your donation at 620 SE Madison, Housing and Neighborhood Development Department, 1st Floor.
For more information, contact Corrie Wright, Chair of the Topeka/Shawnee County Homeless Task Force, by email or by calling 785-368-3711. You may also contact Chris Palmer, Homeless Task Force Chair, at 785-845-9589.