What if you didn’t ‘count’?

Inspired by Tommy’s post about census takers and the homeless, I have decided to add my bit after interviewing one of the only two homeless shelters in my area.  Following a harsh winter ice storm that flattened my region for days, and left at least 1/4 of the population with no power (in rural areas even more) these issues stick out like a sore thumb.

There’s something called a “Point in Time” survey that “counts all the people who are homeless on a given day or during a given week; or period prevalence count of the number of people who are homeless over a given period of time.”

Homeless shelters in severe weather – particularly winter weather – may be able to count heads in their own facilities … but they are not equipt to count the heads of those who pass through when they don’t have room to house them.  In my area, for example, even the Point in Time survey had to be rescheduled as many residents went with no power for more than four days (late addition: many remain without power).

Homelessness and states of emergency stop for no one and my area had a brief water shortage that had citizens running for the nearest store to make sure they were stocked up on water … all the while many folks who weren’t homeless were stocking up on fluids only to run home to a cold, dark house.

Twitter was a blessing in Southwest Oklahoma as many had no access to media, and not every newspaper in Oklahoma actively covers this area.  Through texts, tweets, and a phone call or two, residents were able to use their Smartphones to communicate … and convey messages to others.  They know what it’s like to live without means of communication as much as anyone now, and in our culture it’s a hard lesson to be learned.

But, what if you aren’t counted?  What if – through no deliberate fault of your own – you don’t count anymore?  The one homeless shelter in my community – ONE – that provides private rooms (probably about 10 total) for families  has been full for two weeks.   What if you didn’t count?

If the homeless aren’t counted, we can’t help them with either federal, state, or community funding.  And,  for most people … we truly do want to help.


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