Homeless counted through Point in Time surveyEven though pictures of Red Wing often include brick buildings and thriving local businesses, the picture of Red Wing is also captured through a national annual Point in Time homeless count.
By: Rebecca Rudolph, The Republican Eagle
Even though pictures of Red Wing often include brick buildings and thriving local businesses, the picture of Red Wing is also captured through a national annual Point in Time homeless count.
The aim of the count is to give the government an idea of the need in different areas around the United States to properly allocate money. It is also to give organizations, like Three Rivers, an idea of the need of their communities to give them an idea of how to best serve the area.
A homeless person is defined by the Point in Time count as someone who spends the night in a place not meant for human habitation, like a laundry mat, or in a shelter or transitional place.
Every year the Point in Time count happens toward the end of January. This year’s was on Jan. 24, and the official results will not be released for at least a month.
To be able to count these individuals who do not live in traditional housing can be a complex matter. The majority of the homeless people who live in the area during winter months sleep on the couch of someone they know, which, by the definition, makes them not homeless, said Mary Ulland Evans, resource development coordinator at Three Rivers.
To attract people, Karen Kroll, family advocacy services specialist at Three Rivers, said they created fliers advertising the free warm meal and backpack of basic supplies they would receive if they showed up to United Lutheran to be counted.
Another way that volunteers found people was to rely on the connections that formerly homeless people had made while they were homeless. They would reassure those currently homeless that the volunteers only wanted to count them and not hurt them.
“We counted a fair amount of people and we wouldn’t have even found those people if we hadn’t had formerly homeless people out there saying ‘It’s OK, you can trust these people, they just want information,’” Kroll said.
Other methods of counting people include working with schools and police officers who have noticed individuals who may fit the criteria of homelessness.
Although it likely is an undercount, the project is a start, Ulland Evans and Kroll said.
Ulland Evans said that when she first started working with the Point in Time count, people did not realize homelessness was an issue in Red Wing.
Red Wing does not have a homeless shelter, so Ulland Evans said people had adopted the “silo mentality” of “no, we don’t have shelter. Sorry, go somewhere else.”
Today she says that homelessness has become more visible to some people. With that visibility, mentality has now changed to “you’re homeless. Let’s figure out what will be the best placement for you right now. How can we make it happen, how can we work together to ensure you won’t spend another night out there on the streets.”
That placement could depend on a variety of variables. For instance, some homeless people have mental health issues, drug addiction, alcoholism and are victims of domestic abuse.
“Let’s help them where they’re at instead of trying to turn them into something else and we can actually solve some of this homelessness,” Ulland Evans said.