The Jackson County Homeless Prevention Alliance continues its trailblazing work in homelessness solutions and prevention. The group has increased the number of entities that sit at the same table to discuss poverty and homelessness in Jackson County, how to help the adults, veterans, youth, and families that are in need beyond their scope of resources and services and ultimately how to prevent those at risk from becoming homeless.
Though not all members of the Alliance were able to be present at the meeting there were 19 in attendance, including representatives from agencies in Lawton, including Jervis Jackson, Southwest Oklahoma Continuum of Care Director, and Altus’ City Planning Director, Barbara Burleson was the guest speaker.
Burleson, educated the group on dilapidated buildings and homes, how they are determined and what the demolition process is. She was available to answer any questions the group had.
Jervis Jackson, Southwest Oklahoma Continuum of Care Director, informed the group of what a “Point in Time Count” is, how it works and when it will take place in Altus. A “Point in Time Count”, is mandated by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) for the Continuum of Care to conduct annually in January. SWCOC (Southwest Continuum of Care) has taken it a step further and conducts the survey twice annually, a second count being taken in September.
The count is a one day survey done over a 24 hour period, aimed at gaining an accurate count of the homeless in any given community.
“There are two categories; sheltered, those in a shelter that is not their own permanent resident, and the un-sheltered, those living on the streets, in cars, etc. The un-sheltered are more difficult to identify,” Jackson said. “The count helps with funding requests, such as the ESG grant for emergency shelter and gives an assessment of what the need is in your area.”
According to Jackson the difficulty in Altus has been the un-sheltered count but he is confident that with Southwestern Youth Services heading up the event, it will be successful.
Police Capt. Munn asked Jackson if this event yields an accurate count.
“It does. It particulary works well in rural areas,” said Jackson.
Training will be provided for volunteers and SWYS is working on what incentive will be attached to the survey to attract the needed participants. Lawton usually partners with a fast food restaurant that provides free lunch for the homeless that show up to be counted. Kim Bryant, Executive Director of Southwestern Youth Services, raised the idea of partnering with a local church to feed the participants on that day.
The Altus “Point in Time Count”, will take place in September.
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