EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso Coalition for the Homeless will be conducting its 18th annual "Point in Time" survey of homeless, sheltered and those living on the streets in El Paso on Jan. 26.
The survey helps give the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development a better idea of the scope of the homeless problem in the Borderland, providing vital data to accurately assess community performance in preventing and ending homelessness.
Teams of volunteers will canvass El Paso County to count homeless men, women and children next Thursday.
"The purpose is to give HUD and Washington, D.C., an idea of what homelessness looks like in America," said Everett Saucedo, director of the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid Legal Clinic for the Homeless. "If they have a better idea of what homelessness looks like, then they have a better means to address and ultimately end homelessness. Not only is it a physical count of those living rough, we also get a information regarding demographics, male, female, immigrant status, veterans status, LGBTQ, race, you name it. We break it down into a bunch of different categories."
As an incentive to complete the 10 to 20 minute survey the homeless participants will receive items to help them out. The El Paso Coalition for the Homeless is seeking donations, so that everyone who participates receives something in return. In addition to monetary donations, they are asking for new socks, beanie caps and gloves, in addition to jackets, coats, women's hygiene products and sports bras.
Donations can be taken to the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless at 6044 Gateway East, Suite 211. They can be reached by phone at (915) 843-2170.
"Aside from gathering information that can help washington better eradicate homelessness," Saucedo said, "we also use this as a means to get very badly needed supplies out to people who are living rough."
The last Point in Time (PIT) survey, conducted in January of 2016, found about 1,400 homeless living in El Paso. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, the number has decreased steadily since 2005.
"If we see a spike in homelessness in the area then the federal government, HUD, will allocate more resources to that," Saucedo said. "The more accurate the count, the better for everyone. You've got to know what you're fighting before you fight it. It is very, very difficult to say what a homeless person looks like in El Paso, because it is all across the board."