Homeless count should give accurate picture
August 30, 2005
It’s a good thing people like Kathy Wolfe are paying attention to the number of homeless people in Carson City.
Wolfe, who works for the city’s health department, was among those who recognized how ludicrous it was for the federal Housing and Urban Development Department to ask local officials to count homeless people in January.
Ludicrous, that is, unless you’re intentionally trying to understate the homeless problem in America.
Whatever the reason, on the freezing, foggy, snow-packed day in January that volunteers ventured into the alleys and vacant lots of Carson City, they managed to find a couple dozen homeless people.
It was pretty obvious to everybody involved that there were far more homeless people in and around Carson City, even in the middle of winter.
With that in mind, another count – unofficial, for whatever that’s worth – was conducted this week and apparently turned up more than 100. (The final tally is still to come.)
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Has the number of homeless risen tenfold since January? Not likely. It’s fairly obvious that people who don’t have a regular place to stay manage to survive in the winter by somehow pulling together enough money to rent a motel room, or bunk with friends, or hide in a warm place where no one is likely to find them.
And they’re probably not walking the streets when there’s 3 feet of snow on the ground. They’re without homes, not common sense.
HUD’s excuse for a January count is that winter is when homeless people need the most help, but it created the real possibility of a significant underestimation of the problem.
Our hope is that this week’s recount will give an accurate picture of the number of people in Carson City who need help, and the kind of help they need, so that HUD can direct the appropriate resources here.
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