New app aims to get more accurate count of the homeless

Every year a group of volunteers in Corpus Christi goes out into the community to collect the most accurate data possible on the homeless population.

CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - Every year a group of volunteers in Corpus Christi goes out into the community to collect the most accurate data possible on the homeless population.

The count is required by the federal government for making decisions about funding.

Many homeless shelters and help groups met Thursday to discuss a new app volunteers will use to collect the data. Last year they determined there were only 650 homeless individuals in Corpus Christi -- that's .001-percent of our population, and there are several factors that aren't taken into account which would make that percent much bigger.

Every year cities across the nation are required to report their findings to HUD. In turn the city will be given money according to the number. This year, shelters and organizations are expecting that number to be higher because of Hurricane Harvey.

"This will just give us a better idea of what we need to ask for, for the assistance of other people, to help us reach the other people. The homeless in our area," said Lt. Laura Gesner of the Salvation Army of the Coastal Bend.

But will an app improve the accuracy of the survey?

Metro Ministries CEO Patty Clark says there are several people that are looked over in this one-day collection -- people who don't want to participate or those who may be homeless but don't live on the streets, and more importantly, students.

"The CCISD has identified about 1,400 students that are considered homeless. That could mean they're living in a shelter," Clark said. "That could mean they're living with a friend or relative, but they are identified as homeless."

Clark adds that the National Coalition for the Homeless reports that on average, one-percent of every city's population is homeless. So for Corpus Christi that would mean over 3,000 people, but last year the point-in-time survey concluded that 650 people in town were homeless.

"So if you use that one-percent formula against the population in Corpus Christi, then you're getting closer really to what the true number of homelessness is," Clark said.

However, since there are so many factors that go into the homeless population, Clark said a more accurate survey would require more time and resources.

"The point-in-time survey is the best that they have for now," Clark said.

Gesner agrees.

"I believe that it's accurate. Of course, there's going to be a margin of error of those people who don't want to participate and I believe those are taken into account along with the count we actually get," Gesner said.

The Homeless Issues Partnership is asking for volunteers to help Jan. 25. You do need to be trained before hitting the streets. The best way to contact them is by calling 361-658-6405.

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