Each year, cities, volunteers and agencies in Collin County gather to count the number of people experiencing homelessness in the area in order to provide as accurate a picture as possible of the state of homelessness, and therefore the need, in the area.
The data is provided at the state and federal levels and used to apply for funding that could help alleviate the need.
“This gives us a better quantitative measure as to the size of the need, and it continues to grow,” said Ron Johnson, board member of the Collin County Homeless Coalition.
After last year’s Point in Time count came with multiple contingencies and alterations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local agencies are hoping the 2022 iteration of the vital count will provide a more accurate picture of the state of homelessness.
For Johnson, the 2022 count, scheduled for one evening in January, is a chance to bounce back. The coalition supports Collin County cities as they conduct the counts, he said, and usually volunteers are present to help count and survey people experiencing homelessness in the area.
During the 2021 count, amid COVID-19 restrictions, volunteer participation was put on hold and the count fell on the shoulders of staff, a move that resulted in less widespread coverage, Johnson said.
This year, volunteers will once again participate, he said, and work in groups of three to four in areas across the county to survey those experiencing homelessness and who are unsheltered. When it comes to counting the number of people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered, Johnson said information from a data system will be used to provide those numbers.
“We’re expecting we’ll get a little more count this year. It’s hard to tell because of the evictions and everything else and the moratoriums and stuff, just where we are,” Johnson said. “Last time we did the counts, we had somewhere close to 200 unsheltered in the county, and hopefully that number won’t go up, but it’s conceivable that it could go up based upon what we’ve seen in the last 12 to 15 months.”
The 2021 count reported 180 people were counted as experiencing homelessness in Collin County and being unsheltered while 285 were reported as sheltered and experiencing homelessness.
The 2019 count reported 380 people experiencing homelessness and being sheltered in the county, Johnson saaid. A previous Star Local Media article reported that there were over 550 people reported overall as experiencing homelessness in the county.
“We would hope that the quality of the numbers this year will be better than we saw last year,” Johnson said, “And so the question is with that, are we going to see a moderate change or is it going to be about the same as it was two years ago? I don’t have the crystal ball for that one. My sense is they should be just a little bit higher, just because of the economics, and like I say, the COVID impacts that we’ve had.”
Johnson said this year, the overnight warming stations in McKinney and Plano will also be open to allow for surveying people experiencing homelessness.
Johnson said there will likely be a need for about 50 to 60 volunteers for this year’s count. Volunteers can sign up with the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, which helps with the PIT count in both Dallas and Collin counties. Registration is open at mdha.pointintime.info/register.cfm