Letter to the Editor: Homeless count helps ID issues

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires an annual head count of the homeless in each community. “The Point in Time Count,” its official name, aims to collect data on a homeless population that meets specific criteria. Data was collected through a variety of methods. Our only shelter, the House of Hope, has an automatic link to HUD. Homeless students are counted through the school system, and then a team of volunteers interviews those who live unsheltered in a variety of outdoor settings.

Unfortunately, there are certain groups of homeless people who are not counted as homeless. These include “couch surfers” and motel dwellers who do not have a stable address. Despite their limited means, this group does not meet the strict HUD criteria of unsheltered on the coldest night of the year.

This year, we wanted to collect data using HUD criteria and non-HUD criteria. Fortunately, we were able to make contact with a homeless person who spread the word about the count and the two meals to which the homeless were invited to, with the interviewers standing by. Listening to their stories helps the interview team get a fuller picture of the plight of homelessness and to document the services and housing that will allow them to return to financial stability, the goal of many homeless persons.

A special thank you to those who chose to do the interview and the following generous cooks and interviewers: Catherine Hawk, Dawn Graves, Vicki Davies, Kathy Leonard, Darlene Clark, Meredith Parnes, Rebecca Rouse, Kat Sheetz, Felicia Hart, Linda Allen, Hannah Bement and our youngest volunteer, who baked muffins and did a Scout project, Serenity Rouse. Volunteers who helped with breakfast in the Calvary Episcopal Church parish hall to serve, clean up, and talk with the guests included Barbara Tringali, Dianna Evans, Betsy Michaels, and members of the Blue Ridge Opportunities cleaning team whose conscientious work is appreciated.

Linda J. Allen, Front Royal