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Point-in-Time survey identifies doubled homeless population in Big Bend area

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 22:02:48-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — This year's Point in Time surveys puts a new number on what we already know to be true: homelessness is impacting more people now due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's kind of like a census for people experiencing homelessness," said Amanda Wander, Executive Director of the Big Bend Continuum of Care.

With less than half of the number of volunteers they'd normally have due COVID-19, Wander and her team have worked from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. all this week to count the number of homeless people in the Big Bend.

"This week we did Leon County," said Wander, and so far we've already done 109 surveys; 83 of those are considered un-sheltered. That's pretty close to our normal number already, and we haven't even made it to another county."

Wander said they've seen the homeless population double since the start of the pandemic.

The information they collect helps the Housing and Urban Development department determine how much funding to provide each year.

"We were actually able to up what we were able to take from HUD last year to about 1.7 million. And that mostly goes to find permanent supportive housing projects," said Wander.

Creating the ability to connect our homeless population with the right resources is the very reason Wander says they've decided to continue the Point in Time survey through this pandemic.

"The only thing that separates you from homelessness," Wander said, "is resources and a support network. That's it!"

Volunteers will canvas Gadsden county throughout the rest of Friday, and the other six counties they serve on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2.