Each year in January, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, coordinating with county mayors in conjunction with the Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, do what is called a Point in Time Count of the homeless. This is an unduplicated count on a single night of the people in a specific county who are experiencing homelessness.
The Point in Time Count of 2011 showed 28 homeless individuals. The PIT count of Jan. 24, 2013, found a total of 86 people were homeless (sheltered and unsheltered) and 68 people were precariously housed (almost homeless).
Unsheltered means that the people sleep outside without a roof over their heads or in places not fit for human habitation like a car or an abandoned building. Sheltered means that they were either in transitional housing such as half-way houses or they were actually living in a homeless shelter. Precariously housed are more commonly called “couch surfers.” They live at the homes of friends or family but do not have an address of their own.
According to literature distributed at a meeting this month, there are eight different subpopulations of the homeless categorized according to specific characteristics that were identified in those who were homeless during the 2013 PIT count. The categories cover victims of domestic violence, people with chronic substance abuse problems, severely mentally ill individuals, veterans (both male and female), chronically homeless families, and chronically homeless individuals.
A chronically homeless individual is someone who has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or who has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years and has a disability. A family with an adult member who meets this description would also be considered chronically homeless.
The PIT Count of 2014 will take place on Jan. 28. Any individual or group wishing to assist in this effort must complete a training session to make sure that the guidelines are met to insure accurate counts. Training will take place on Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. and on Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. at the office of Trinity Out-Reach Center of Hope, or TORCH, which is located at 320 Robertsville Rd, STE 5, in Oak Ridge. To sign up, gain more information, or to put your name on the volunteer list, call (865) 318-4788.