Coalition to count homeless in Blount County

The Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness will conduct a street and shelter count of homeless individuals in Blount on Thursday, Jan. 28, as part of the 2010 Point-In-Time Count coordinated by the U.S. Dept of HUD.

During last year’s count, more than 3,500 homeless individuals were counted in East Tennessee. Many times more are precariously housed (doubled- or tripled-up in inadequate housing, facing eviction, or living in substandard housing). The annual Point-In-Time Count is used to determine local allocations of Federal and State funds to address housing subsidies, emergency grants and provide services to poor and homeless individuals and families.

Volunteers are needed to assist service providers in performing the count throughout different areas in each county. Cash donations and food vouchers are also needed so that when homeless families are found and counted, they can be provided a meal and alternative lodging. For more information about ways you can help with the 2010 Point-In-Time Count, please call Rod Jackson at 865-982-6361 or Meghan Rasnake at 865-233-4737 with Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness.

Jackson, who is also executive director of the Blount County Children’s Home, asked the Blount County Commission at their Jan. 12 agenda meeting to consider allocating $3,000 for software to help track the homeless in the Blount County area.

“It is a software system that tracks if a person comes in for services through a program like Family Promise, we log them into the database. That individual can’t go to the next agency and request the same thing,” Jackson explained. “I believe it is an excellent way of managing resources as resources on a federal and state level shrink. Being able to manage resources is critical.”

Jackson said that information goes back to HUD once a year to help in determining funds that to go agencies providing services.

The motion to pass the request on to the Budget Committee was made by commissioner Monika Murrell. Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves said, “This keeps a person from moving from one county to another. It prevents resources from being abused.”

Jackson confirmed Reeves’ comments and said the system is part of a nationwide network. “We’re actually tracking individuals who are accessing service,” he said.

Commissioners passed the motion unanimously. It will be included on the agenda of the February budget committee meeting.

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