A count of homeless people in Aiken County will take place this month, coordinated by Lisa Tindal, executive director of Mental Health America of Aiken County. The data will be provided to the federal Housing and Urban Development agency.
The project will take place Jan. 24 – an effort that is done every two years, Tindal said.
It is done specifically to get numbers, not people’s names, and can assist agencies in the community in obtaining eligible federal funds.
“One night is set aside for each city, county and state to get an accurate picture of the homeless,” Tindal said. “It’s done through collaboration with other agencies.”
The process provides two kinds of information.
A “sheltered count” refers to a total of people who are in Aiken County shelters – such as the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, Nurture Home, My Father’s House, My Salem Ministries and the Salvation Army.
The agencies are asked to provide a form for each person housed in their shelter. Tindal said demographic information is sough, including single members with children, men and veterans.
An “unsheltered count” will be done over Jan. 24-31.
The homeless people accounted for in that process are those served through a number of agencies for a range of needs.
Those facilities include Area Churches Together Serving, Community Ministries of North Augusta, Aiken-Barnwell Community Action, Christ Central, Aiken Housing Authority, Aiken County 211, Megiddo Dream Station, Our Lady of the Valley Ministries, the Department of Social Services, Goodwill and the Community Medical Clinic.
Each agency will be asked to determined that an individual is homeless. If so, the agency can complete a one-page form for that person.
Tindal was asked to coordinate the count process. She is a member of the Midlands Area Consortium for the Homeless Board.
Federal fund applications can be challenging, Tindal said. The collection of accurate data will serve as an effective tool when seeking funding.
“It is also important for those of us who serve the homeless to be able to inform our local government officials and community leaders of the needs in Aiken,” Tindal said in a letter to the other agencies.