(PARIS, Texas) — The Texas Homeless Network (THN) released the official results for the 2020 Point-In-Time (PIT) Count for Lamar County earlier this month.
The PIT Count was conducted locally by the Lamar County Homelessness Coalition (LCHC) on Thursday, January 23rd. Over two dozen volunteers canvassed the city conducting the THN online survey on each homeless individual that consented to be surveyed.
Only those residing in unsheltered locations such as cars, parks, streets, etc. and sheltered locations (such as a transitional housing program as New Hope) could be counted. Individuals who are “couch-surfing” or living in “doubled-up” situations (more than one family sharing a single-family dwelling) are not eligible to be counted per HUD guidelines nor are those who are homeless but have purchased their own hotel room for the night.
LCHC PIT Committee Chair Jenny Wilson explained the limitations of this count, “we know from our school districts, local health officials and our social service nonprofit agencies, that the vast majority of our homeless in Lamar County are actually not able to be counted because they are couch-surfing, doubled-up or paying for hotel rooms.”
The PIT results from the January count revealed that there are 50 individuals in Lamar County that were actively experiencing homelessness on January 23rd. 17 of those (or 34%) were sheltered at the New Hope Center. Thirty-three were male and 17 were female. 38 were white, 8 were African-American, 1 was American Indian, 1 identified as multiple races and 1 marked “other.”
On that day in January, five children were identified as homeless, three were unaccompanied youth, four were veterans and five were chronically homeless.
Unemployment was the number one reason listed for why they were homeless, followed by unable to pay rent/mortgage, lack of assistance/resources and then family/personal issues. For half of those surveyed this was the first time, they had been homeless.
For those who were unsheltered, seven of them spent the night in an abandoned building and four had slept in their vehicles. Other places named included the park and on the street.
Wilson added, “we are so grateful to all of our LCHC volunteers who go out each year to help collect this data. The data is used to help us determine what resources are needed in our community to help prevent and reduce homelessness. I also want to thank those partner agencies who are working with our homeless populations daily. Because of their relationships and outreach, we were able to survey those clients they serve including IMPACT, the Salvation Army, the New Hope Center, the Downtown Food Pantry and That House. And thank you to the RAM Foundation and the United Way of Lamar County for purchasing all of the bags and hygiene/food/warmth items that were handed out.”
The Lamar County Homelessness Coalition is an advocacy group for those experiencing homelessness in our community. They are not engaged in fundraising or collecting donations but instead work with established local nonprofits, the Texas Homeless Network, and other local homeless coalitions in the state in an effort to build partnerships and serve those in need.
Those interested in learning more can attend the LCHC General Meeting on March 19th at noon at the Meals on Wheels office or register for the upcoming Homelessness Summit on April 17th. To register for the Summit or view the experts coming in to speak from around the state, visit the Lamar County Homelessness Coalition Facebook page.
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Jenny S. Wilson
United Way of Lamar County
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