Spread the word: Marshall County homeless to be counted on Jan. 23

Point-in-Time homelessness count to be conducted Jan. 23 in Marshall County. Homelessness is defined by IHCDA as sheltered homelessness includes those who live in emergency shelters (including temporary emergency shelters for weather or domestic violence), transitional housing, residential programs for youth (not including government-funded youth programs), and those living in hotels/motels as paid for by a public or private agency.
By: 
Courtney Dobrzykowski
Staff Writer

Two local groups have teamed up with local volunteers to determine the county’s rate of homelessness for this year’s Point-in-Time Count, conducted by the Indiana Housing and Community Development.

The United Way of Marshall County and the Marshall County Community Foundation plan to perform a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people on Jan. 23 with the support of local volunteer organizations and individuals.

According to a press release provided by Angela Rupchock-Schafer, MCCF director of development and communications, the community is being asked to spread the word of the count to those they know fit the criteria for the count.

The release sates that “families and individuals who have relied on the County Trustee, churches or charities to help them stay housed month-to-month are asked to participate in the PIT Count survey. Persons facing eviction, who rely on couch surfing or feel they are forced to reside in an unsafe space are encouraged to make their voices heard.”

Rupchock-Schafer said the count will help determine funding for homelessness-related charities and nonprofits in the area, so accuracy is a key element.

Volunteers will be performing shelter counts for the survey, by visiting homeless shelters or other community places of temporary residence, according to Rupchock-Schafer.

To conduct the unsheltered count, volunteers will visit service-based locations like food pantries and hospitals, and public places including known congregate spots.

As well, those experiencing homelessness are able to visit any of the volunteering organizations listed below on Jan. 23 to contribute to the count.

• Bread of Life Food Pantry, 6770 N. Michigan Road, Plymouth (1 to 3 p.m.)
• First United Church of Christ, 323 S. Center St., Bremen (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
• Grace United Church of Christ, 307 N. Plymouth St., Culver (9 a.m. to noon)
• Lobby of Mi Camino, by Red Rock Inn, 2550 N. Michigan St., Plymouth (5 to 7 p.m.)
• Marshall County Neighborhood Center, 402 W. Garro St., Plymouth (5 to 7 p.m.)
• St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 400 N. Center St., Plymouth (5:30 to 7 p.m.)

IHCDA defines unsheltered homelessness as a “person residing in a place not meant for human habitation.”

This includes arrangements in cars, abandoned buildings, bridges, doorways and more; sheltered homelessness includes those who live in emergency shelters (including temporary emergency shelters for weather or domestic violence), transitional housing, residential programs for youth (not including government-funded youth programs), and those living in hotels/motels as paid for by a public or private agency.

The organization expounded on what circumstances will not be included in the count:

Those who are in precarious housing (on the edge of becoming homeless, or temporarily residing with friends/family); formerly homeless and currently living in permanent housing such as Section 8; children or youth temporarily residing in hospitals or other emergency housing due to parents’ homelessness or abandonment; or in an institution (jail, foster care, hospital, etc.).

The data compiled will be used to measure the rate and nature of homelessness on a local and national level.

The information will be published on the Housing and Urban Development Exchange website; provided to Congress to better understand the severity of homelessness; reported in the Annual Notice of Funding Availability; and used to determine the success of communities in meeting the goals established in strategic plans.

Those interested in volunteering to help with the count or with addressing issues related to homelessness in the county are asked to contact the United Way or MCCF at 574-936-3366.