LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - For several hours Thursday, around 65 volunteers traveled the city to find homeless people in Lubbock, wherever they might be. The information is expected to help advocates better serve, and reduce, the homeless population.
The 2019 Point-In-Time-Count is a nationwide campaign conducted locally by the South Plains Homeless Consortium for the benefit of the Texas Homeless Network. The event not only counts homeless individuals but the survey collects details on why they may be homeless and what is needed to get them out of that situation.
“We want to know the needs and resources we may need to bring to this community to really help end homelessness,” President of the SPHC Ashley Ammons said. “A lot of these counts are tied to federal funding. When we get good and accurate numbers, that can directly lead to funding sources to come back into this community to help provide the much-needed resources.”
Volunteers, including the Lubbock Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, visited known locations of homeless people out on the streets and in shelters such as the Salvation Army, Open Door, Women’s Protective Services, Family Promise or Grace Campus. The surveys were collected on an app called Counting Us. As many as 37 questions were asked of the individuals.
“We get some background information,” Ammons said. “We take demographics, education. We ask if they have been a veteran. If they have, we ask about service. We also ask about any type of mental health disability, just different questions to see where they may fall. We ask questions about if they have been a victim of domestic violence or anything around those lines about why they may be homeless.”
The consortium expects the numbers, which they will release in the Spring, to be low. That’s not only due to the work to help these individuals find homes, but because of the weather at the time of the survey. Ammons expects a similar situation to have had an impact on 2018′s count, which showed a decrease in the homeless population.
“It was 23 degrees last night,” Ammons said. “Some of our folks, who may have been on the streets, may have found somewhere else to sleep and we have just not been able to survey them. Those who stayed in a shelter, we are able to find those individuals. It’s kind of hard to give the actual number, because the ones we survey, we know there are going to be more individuals out there we just can’t count in today’s survey.”
Nevertheless, Ammons expects this count to only help them continue to get these individuals in their own homes. The LPD Homeless Outreach Team hopes the survey will help to better understand mental health issues, which officers see plaguing most of the individuals.
“Whatever is going on mentally, they may not be able to take care of and pretty soon after it becomes their normal,” Officer Tony Chacon said. “Everyone else might realize that’s not normal but that individual might not realize that. They might go to self-medicating or something like that. That’s probably our biggest issue we see out there is mental health issues.”
Terneira Henderson took a survey Thursday at Open Door, a place where she attends meetings and classes that improve anger management and self-esteem.
“I come here because it’s beneficial, as far as helping me keep my mind stable,” Henderson said. “They offer good resources. They motivate me. I love it here. It benefits me a lot, as far as getting me an ID, getting me doctor visits. They help do whatever I need and never turn me down.”
Officer Chacon also expects the survey to further solidify the truth behind where the individuals come from. He tells KCBD a common misconception is that they travel from far outside Lubbock to seek the available resources.
“We have this idea that, ‘if you build it they will come,’” Chacon said. “For some reason people think we have all these resources and all these homeless people want to come into the City of Lubbock because of what we have and it’s not true. That’s the biggest thing that will come out of this survey is how many people are from Texas and how many people are from Lubbock.”