Homeless+Count


Photo by Brownpau
Article by John Palen

Midland County Continuum of Care will coordinate another “point-in-time” survey of homelessness on Jan. 26. In the two most recent surveys, in January 2009 and 2010, about 327 homeless people were counted, an increase of almost 50 percent from a 2007 count. Institutions likely to be providing services or having contact with the homeless, including churches, agencies, schools, law enforcement and state parks employees, will be asked to count homeless people with whom they have had contact during the week of the census. The process controls for duplications so individuals will only be counted once, even if they had contact with multiple agencies.

Sharon Mortensen, chair of Continuum of Care, said community awareness about the count is important to help develop the most accurate survey of the problem. Mortensen said the continuum believes surveys done so far have resulted in undercounting.

“This ‘point-in-time’ count is an important tool in identifying current need in Midland County and in leveraging grant monies to help in addressing homelessness,” Mortensen said. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority requires that local communities conduct the census.

A person is considered to be homeless who is living

  • In places not meant for human habitation (such as a car or shed.)
  • In an emergency shelter
  • In transitional or supportive housing, with no identified future residence.
  • In a housing unit with an eviction notice within seven days of the survey date with no identified subsequent residence.
  • Those “couch surfing” or unsure of where they will sleep the night of the census are also considered homeless.

For more information or to report individuals who are homeless, contact Sharon Mortensen, Shelterhouse, 835-6771, or Sally York, Midland Area Homes, 496-9550.

Editor's note: Agencies in other counties will also be conducting a census of the homeless on this day.

© John Palen, 2011