Volunteers needed to help with homeless count

The South Dakota Housing Development Authority, on behalf of the South Dakota Housing for the Homeless Consortium (SDHHC),  is once again conducting a statewide, point-in-time homeless count on Sept. 28, 2010.

"This one-day snapshot will survey individuals and families who are homeless in South Dakota," said Lisa Bondy, coordinator for SDHHC.  "Once there is a better understanding of how many people are impacted and why, efforts can be tailored to help."  

Volunteers from all communities are encouraged to help conduct this survey.  

"We need help from city/county officials, law enforcement, and faith-based organizations to reach as many individuals and families as possible over a 24-four hour period," said Bondy. In many of the rural counties, we rely heavily on those agencies when other services or shelters are not available."

"We want to talk with homeless individuals face-to-face", stated Bondy. "We want to know how long they've been homeless, why they became homeless, if they are caring for children, and how we can help."   

The statewide survey is broken down into three geographical areas according to counties – West River, East River and Central South Dakota.  Stacey Tieszen, coordinator of the Homeless Advisory Board in Sioux Falls is conducting the survey in the eastern part of the state.  Andrea Denke with Black Hills Region Homeless Coalition will handle the West River area.  South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) in Pierre is the contact for the remaining areas of the state.  Also, Aberdeen, Watertown and Huron will again be conducting surveys in their communities.

The previous homeless count on Sept. 24, 2009, indicated 470 women, 826 men and 429 children were homeless in South Dakota.  Per the homeless count and survey, the prime reasons for homelessness included inability to pay rent, lost job, unemployment, and alcohol/drug abuse.

Results from this year's count should be released by the end of November 2010.

Reducing the number of homeless individuals is a national and state priority. By combining the results from this count with a plan of action, SDHHC can assist its members in seeking the appropriate changes needed to address these problems.

SDHHC encourages anyone who is interested in participating in this effort to please contact Lisa Bondy at South Dakota Housing Development Authority, (605) 773.3445 or lisab@sdhda.org.

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