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SE Kansas prepares for area homeless count - KOAM TV 7

SE Kansas prepares for area homeless count

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Southeast Kansas groups prepare to count individuals in the region experiencing homelessness. Every year the nation has a Point In Time homeless count and in Southeast Kansas this year's will take place on January 23rd. The count is set up by the S-E-K Community Action Group or SEK-CAP.

Group officials say that taking time to make more accurate counts of the area, means more federal funding and helps benefits families like David Smith and Stephanie Masters, who have been living in CHOICES Emergency Shelter in Pittsburg with their son since January 4th.

"It's awesome, because where we were staying before had no heat, and about to be no electricity, so we've got the warmth, we've got the roof over our head, we have everything, we have food. We have everything we didn't have before," Master's said.

According to the 2011 count there were 82 homeless persons living in Southeast Kansas. That's a number that SEK-CAP feels is much lower than reality, in fact 72 individuals can stay at choices in Pittsburg alone. And SEK-CAP's Becky Gray says the Southeast Kansas region has just under ten shelters.

"Most of the shelters are full most of the time, so if we were just to count the people who are sheltered we would have a number higher than one in 2011 and then if we would truly count the number of people experience homelessness out of the shelter we are certain that it would be much larger," Gray said.  

For that reason Southeast Kansas is working on improving accuracy; from expanding counties to include Allen, Bourbon and Cherokee to working with local services to find others that are homeless who are staying outside of shelters.

"A lot of people sleep on the couches of other siblings or friends or going from house to house trying to find a bed to sleep in," Smith said.  

Teams of volunteers will seek out unsheltered people on the night of January 23rd to complete the survey. SEK-CAP will have seven additional days to go through and compile the data.

Gray says SEK-CAP is looking for volunteers to help with the count as well as data entry. If you'd like to volunteer, you can find information on their website at www.sek-cap.com, or email Becky Gray at beckyg@sek-cap.com.

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