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Point-in-time homeless count to include tornado victims

The Economic Security Corporation says the last point-in-time count in January showed 418 people were homeless.

Next week that number is expected to increase as the Homeless Coalition will not only go to homeless camps in the woods and the shelters, they will also count those made homeless by the May 22 tornado that struck Joplin and Duquesne.

Homeless Coalition chair Jennifer Pliler says the count is vital so they can get funding and help those in need.

“It’s important to get people into permanent housing,” Pliler says.  “Homelessness can happen at any time of the day to anybody.”

The point in time count will include people living in hotels, motels or families doubling up in houses due to the disaster.

“Our agency here at Economic Security actually has a program where we’re helping those with hotel-motel vouchers so we can use that information, then we believe there are some area agencies that are doing that out there as well that we’re going to try to work with,” says Pliler.

David Crossley is the Homeless Coordinator for the Salvation Army and has been involved in the homeless count for about 10 years.  He says they have seen an increase since the economic crisis and this is a way to get a snap-shot of how many people are homeless and living in Jasper, Newton, McDonald and Barton counties.

“Of course you always see up trends in the summer time because you have a lot more transients who are moving around,” says Crossley.  “The whole purpose of the count is to try to document everyone we can.  I’m not sure if it’s an achievable goal but that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The group is looking for volunteers to help with the count.  To learn how you can help visit http://www.escswa.org/ or call 417-781-0352.


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