Every year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires Continuum of Care organizations to count the number of homeless in the area served by that organization, and, this week, Guilford County conducted what’s known as a “Point-in-Time” (PIT) count.
Though any count of this nature is going to be inexact, the results help local leaders and HUD officials identify the extent of the problem in communities across the country.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston has stated unequivocally that addressing the problem of homelessness is his top priority for 2023, and, among the many people helping conduct the count this week were Alston and Guilford County Manager Mike Halford.
In every odd-numbered year the effort is more comprehensive. Instead of just counting people served by shelters and local organizations, groups of volunteers take to the streets and attempt to count, at a single point in time, all of the homeless in the community – including the “unsheltered.”
Since the commissioners are putting such a focus on ending homelessness in Guilford County this year, the comprehensive count should be much more helpful than the less intensive effort conducted in even-numbered years.
County officials pointed out this week that this type of feet-on-the-ground count is so important that some Continuum of Care organizations conduct it every year even though not required by HUD to do so.
Guilford County’s 2023 goals are extremely ambitious: (1) Get all of the county’s homeless people into safe, warm environments before the cold weather hits in the winter of 2023, and (2) Establish a long-term substance abuse treatment facility and long-term mental health facility by the end of the year.
Alston has stated repeatedly that the problem of homelessness can only be solved if substance abuse and mental health issues are addressed.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, the county, on its Facebook page, thanked all the community members and organizations who helped in the count and those who provided “Blessing Bags” – bags of toiletries and other necessities that were distributed to the homeless who were counted.
Here’s a list of the partners thanked by Guilford County:
- The Volunteer Center
- High Point University
- Dr. Brad Lilley
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Center for Housing and Community Studies)
- Welfare Reform Liaison Project
- United Way of High Point
- Open Door Ministries of High Point
- The Servant Center
- East Market Street Seventh-Day Adventist Church
- Women’s Resource Center in Greensboro
- Jamestown Presbyterian Church
Alston said this week that the problem of homelessness can only be solved through a massive joint effort that includes federal, state and local governments, the community’s health system and a wide collective of community organizations.