20 Jan 2014

counting and responding

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Hillsborough is like many communities throughout the US in re-orienting its service to the homeless in recent years. The move to more permanent housing solutions is viewed as a better long-term solution (it’s ultimately less expensive and more sustainable than shorter-term emergency services). This article highlights, however, how complex of an endeavor it can be to get an accurate gauge on how extensive the issue of homelessness is in a given community. Point-in-time counts, while useful in providing a general estimate for how many people are on the streets at night, do not give us a sense for the “hidden homeless” among us.  Most notably, those who are doubling-up with others (and are thus considered homeless per the McKinney-Vento definition) are nearly impossible to find unless we better utilize out public institutions — schools especially — as not only responders to homelessness, but also identifiers and informers. Many kids who experience homelessness are right before the eyes of their teachers every day, yet their tumultuous, unstable residential situations go undetected. As we move toward better understanding of who (and how many) is/are homeless in our communities, we’ll be able to fine-tune our responses — which may include permanent housing options, but also an array of connected services/organizations that can work together smartly.


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