Volunteers hope new homeless count gets more funding for resources

Homeless Point In Time Survey
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 9:50 PM CST
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Point In Time survey or PIT, counts how many homeless people are living in our communities.

Volunteers with Doorways of Northwest Florida are helping make sure they are accurately counted for the year.

“Whenever you survey somebody, you ask them where they stayed the night of the 25th and then from there the survey directs you through some questions to ask them,” said Paige Kieffer, the Homeless Management Information System Administration at Doorways.

The other questions cover health conditions to what services they need. People can chose to answer the questions or if they give no information they get tagged as an observation.

“So far we have seventy-two full interviews and thirteen observations,” said Kieffer.

Those are for Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington counties.

“Last year our 2022 count we had 30 observation 348 interviews and that is just not an accurate number of our homelessness in our area,” said Kieffer. “You come out here and there’s only two people in these rural areas I doubt it.

Kieffer says in Marianna they’ve already counted eighteen people there in one day, compared to the two the previous year.

Those with Doorways say it is critical they get an accurate count of homeless people in the areas so they can apply for funding for resources that will help serve those communities.

Non-profits in the area will receive some of that funding like Catholic Charities.

“One of our biggest things is helping the homelessness population,” said Matthew Knee, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities Northwest of Florida

They are serving meals Friday to make sure every homeless person is counted.

" I would say anywhere around 50 people have came through today,” said Knee.

Knee says the homeless coalition here makes sure they are serving the most vulnerable and those in need.

Doorways believes they are more on track this year.

“We’re at eighty-five total and it’s only been one day so at this rate if we keep it going our numbers are going to be way more appropriate than last year, said Kieffer.

The survey will end on the 30th.