The first official “point-in-time count”, also referred to as the homeless count of Jackson County was held Saturday, Sept. 12 at First United Methodist Church in Altus. Resource booths lined the walls of the space inside the church where the event was held. The attendees were provided a free meal and beverages, toiletry bags, and more. The purpose of the event was to gather as accurate of a count as possible of those experiencing homeless situations in Jackson County and even more specifically, Altus.
“It turned out great. The data from the surveys is going to help us obtain the right resources to help these people. It’s going to show that there is a homeless problem in Altus,” said Amanda Bernasconi, Founder of the Jackson County Homeless Prevention Alliance and Coordinator of the Jackson County Homeless Count.
The numbers will shock some, and possibly many who are unaware that homelessness exists in Altus.
With 23 surveys submitted, acknowledging being in a homeless situation 13 were from men, nine from women and one unidentified. Seven surveys revealed the individual is homeless with their spouse, five surveys were of families with children, and there were a total of 10 children in those five families.
An immediate reaction may be that 23 is not a large number, however; for a small town and community that is a significant number. That justifies the need for more resources for homeless individuals, youth and families in Altus.
“I know there are more but for someone who is homeless it can be hard to get to the location of the count because they would have to walk too far. But, this is a good start for us. We need a shelter in Altus and we need better and more low-income housing,” said Bernasconi.
Overall the Jackson County homeless count was successful but there’s still more work to be done. Getting the numbers was the first step, a critical step in beginning to find a solution.
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