A small army of volunteers and community organizations attempted to count San Antonio's homeless population Thursday night. The process, known as the point-in-time count, is conducted in many communities throughout Texas and the nation.
It’s a snapshot of the number of homeless living on San Antonio’s streets or housed in temporary shelters like Haven for Hope. The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates that Continuums of Care — regional planning bodies that provide services for the homeless — conduct point-in-time counts in the final 10 days of January in order to receive funding.
The South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless coordinates the counts in San Antonio.
“We’ve been running between 2,800 to 2,700 homeless (people) over the last three years,” said SARAH executive director Bill Hubbard, who expects a similar number this year.
In 2017, 2,743 people were counted; 511 were children. The highest number of homeless was in 2012, at around 3,600 people were counted.
SARAH uses the help of hundreds of volunteers to count and speak with people.
Hubbard also says significant progress has been made in assisting homeless veterans.
“We focused on that in 2015 and 2016, and we dropped those numbers from over 1,000 homeless veterans in the street or shelters down to … 233. So it’s a phenomenal drop,” he said.
The San Antonio area received $9 million earlier this month from HUD to help fund homeless services. SARAH gets a small portion of that funding for administrative costs, and the rest is provided to agencies that provide homeless services, like SAMM Ministries and Family Endeavors, which provide outreach, case management and rental subsidies to homeless individuals who qualify.
The last point-in-time process counted 23,000 homeless persons in Texas, according to the Texas Homeless Network in Austin. Continuums of Care report its data to THN.
After Hurricane Harvey, residents throughout the Texas Coastal Bend lost homes and property, and some people moved into tents. This year, volunteers will ask if a person is homeless due to Hurricane Harvey.
“We would hope that the number of people who have become homeless because of Hurricane Harvey (is) very low. But for those that have become homeless because of the disaster, we want to see where it is they ended up after Harvey hit and what their current situation is because this will help in planning,” said Eric Samuels, CEO of the Texas Homeless Network.
The data for 2018 might not be finalized for several weeks.