This afternoon, I had the privilege of participating in Indianapolis-Marion County‘s annual homeless count.  This survey research is required to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Though HUD only requires the count every other year, Indianapolis-Marion County‘s coordinating agency, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), administers the count yearly.

Why does the count matter?  In addition to better understanding the size and scope of homelessness, the count’s findings inform the planning of services and programs for persons experiencing homelessness.  This 2009 report demonstrates how the data is applied for policy and program recommendations.

My experience today reminded me of some important truths about homelessness:

  • People’s experiences in homelessness vary greatly. Some may be without a home for years and others just a couple weeks.
  • Job skills or having a job do not guarantee housing.
  • Some homeless persons prefer the streets over the shelters.
  • Mental illness is a prevalent issue.
  • We need to do better in taking care of our veterans.

Keep a look out for an upcoming documentary about homelessness in Indianapolis: “Under the Bridge.”

Please leave a comment with your truth about homelessness.

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