OKC Uses Yearly Count to Determine Homeless Needs

Thursday, January 26th 2012, 7:14 pm
By: News 9

It's like the U.S. Census, but on a much smaller and concentrated scale.  Oklahoma City's "Point in Time," took place on Thursday. 

The count is used to determine what kinds of services may or may not be needed.  Dan Straughan, executive director of the OKC Homeless Alliance, thinks the data is crucial.

"Every locality that gets funds from HUD to care for the homeless is required to do a count like this every year," said Straughan.  "We do it every year because it gives us lots of really good information."

Volunteers visit shelters and food pantries to find OKC's homeless, but since the population is so transient, volunteers spend much of the day driving around looking for those in need.

"I think we could drive by people that are homeless all the time," said Jonathan Roberts.  Roberts is executive director of Be the Change, a local organization that serves people living with HIV/AIDS.  "We don't see 'em, either because we don't wanna see 'em, or they don't wanna be seen." 

Oklahoma City has been doing a yearly count since 2002, and the information collected is extremely valuable according to Straughan.  He recalled a few years ago that the city experienced an increase in homeless veterans, and as of late, the number of homeless families has grown.

"The beauty of the count is when we se those trends, with that data, we can get out in front of 'em," said Straughan.