Counting the homeless

At any given time, people around the state are homeless. But the people who help them are somewhat powerless unless they know how *many* people are homeless, and where they are.

Posted: Jan 23, 2018 10:45 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: At any given time, people all over the state of Mississippi are homeless - for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. But the people who help them are somewhat powerless unless they know how MANY people are homeless, and where they are. And that’s exactly what’s behind something called "Point in Time," an annual effort to locate and count the homeless. WTVA’s Mike Russell spent most of Tuesday in the field with a homeless coalition -- and filed this report.

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - They live under bridges, they live in shelters, and they live in cars -- just three of the many ways that people in Mississippi are homeless. But once a year, those who help them make a statewide effort to locate and count the homeless. It’s called “Point in Time,” but long term, it's about helping the homeless get off the streets.

2.98 million people live in Mississippi. At last count, almost 1500 of them had no home of their own. Across the state this week, three coalitions partnered as the backbone of Point of Time are diligently seeking the homeless wherever they are -- in shelters, homeless camps, soup kitchens -- counting them, learning more than ever about them, all part of an effort to someday end homelessness. Right now, though, it's about the vulnerability of those least prepared to meet their own needs.

"How vulnerable is that person on any given day?" asks Hannah Maharrey, chair of Tupelo's Homelessness Task Force. "Vulnerability really is their quality of life."

Allen Tisdale is from MUTEH, Mississippi United to End Homelessness. Formerly homeless himself, he's an "outreach navigator," an expert at finding homeless camps, and if no one's there, determining how many people live there, and their gender and age. Why is this important? Because state and federal funding to help the homeless is based on knowing as much about them as possible. So Allen and his volunteers are moving about quickly...counting, learning.

Mike Russell: "Do you get a sense that homelessness is decreasing in some way?"

Allen Tisdale: "I do. Listen, just because you house one person -- or two people -- it fluctuates, right? But the idea is...do we tackle the root of what homelessness is, and really that's offering housing - and that's what we're doing. And so yes, across the state, I'm seeing it decrease - and especially here in Tupelo."

Ending homelessness certainly won’t happen overnight. It’s a complicated and sensitive process. Bottom line, though, the more everyone knows about the homeless, the better chance they have of getting at least some of them off the streets permanently.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 64400

Reported Deaths: 1825
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5416112
DeSoto347227
Madison236360
Harrison228735
Rankin220231
Jackson215641
Jones182857
Forrest170155
Washington154835
Lauderdale137990
Lee129732
Neshoba126490
Lamar117713
Oktibbeha107737
Lowndes102333
Bolivar101032
Warren99531
Scott97820
Panola96012
Sunflower94223
Copiah92928
Lafayette90714
Leflore88261
Pike86133
Holmes85948
Grenada81921
Yazoo80312
Lincoln78741
Pontotoc7808
Leake77625
Simpson76730
Wayne74921
Monroe73151
Coahoma68410
Tate68327
Marion63419
Marshall6169
Covington60313
Adams59625
Winston59315
Union55215
George5454
Newton53011
Pearl River51537
Tallahatchie51210
Attala51024
Walthall48219
Chickasaw43819
Noxubee43811
Claiborne39913
Calhoun3929
Smith38913
Clay38014
Jasper3799
Alcorn3775
Prentiss3699
Hancock34914
Tishomingo3445
Itawamba32310
Clarke32225
Tippah32013
Tunica3076
Yalobusha30410
Lawrence3027
Montgomery3023
Humphreys28111
Carroll24811
Quitman2381
Greene23011
Kemper22715
Jefferson Davis2256
Perry2207
Amite2176
Webster21112
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson19313
Sharkey1913
Stone1603
Choctaw1294
Benton1280
Franklin1152
Issaquena241
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12186230
Mobile9269204
Montgomery6350148
Madison512227
Tuscaloosa400269
Baldwin332223
Shelby311932
Marshall300134
Unassigned287856
Lee255442
Morgan227015
Etowah196728
DeKalb172113
Elmore163337
Calhoun162713
Walker147964
Houston133412
Dallas129823
Russell12672
St. Clair125214
Limestone122713
Franklin121520
Cullman117112
Colbert112213
Lauderdale111113
Autauga103021
Escambia98115
Talladega94613
Jackson8904
Chambers83238
Tallapoosa82778
Dale79823
Butler75435
Blount7453
Chilton7386
Coffee7255
Covington71620
Pike6727
Barbour5645
Lowndes56124
Marion54724
Marengo52914
Clarke4919
Hale45926
Bullock44411
Winston43511
Perry4324
Wilcox41110
Monroe3964
Randolph39210
Bibb3844
Pickens3769
Conecuh37310
Sumter36018
Lawrence3251
Macon31613
Washington31512
Crenshaw3073
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2497
Greene24711
Henry2473
Geneva2430
Clay2255
Lamar2052
Fayette1785
Cleburne1211
Coosa952
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