Point-In-Time Survey Results Released
Mar 16, 2013 (Times Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Old Fort Homeless Coalition released the results of the 2013 annual Point-in-Time survey on Friday, which counted the number of homeless people in Fort Smith.
This year's numbers were slightly higher than in 2012, but Marshall Sharpe, past president of the coalition, said he was not surprised by what he saw.
"I wasn't too surprised by anything. It's a little better than last year and not as bad as 2011," Sharpe said. "So we're making maybe a little bit of stride."
The 2013 survey listed 228 homeless people in Fort Smith, with 69 unsheltered. There were 211 homeless in the city in 2012, with 65 unsheltered.
Out of the 228 people counted, the survey listed:
--15 people who were severely mentally ill.
--65 people who said they suffered chronic substance abuse.
--22 people who were victims of domestic violence.
--73 people who were chronic homeless.
--25 people who were military veterans.
Sharpe said the numbers hovered near the previous year's numbers, although he said he was glad to see fewer military veterans listed as homeless than in 2012.
In an effort to cut down on the number of unsheltered homeless in the future, members of the coalition are collaborating to purchase property at 301 S. E St., where they hope to establish the Riverview Hope Campus. The release described the campus as, "A setting with a low-demand shelter and a consolidation of services that will eliminate travel and duplication of services."
Sharpe said he expects to see changes in the 2014 survey.
"Hopefully, this time next year, the campus will be in operation maybe about six months, and we should see a dramatic decrease in numbers, hopefully, next year from the unsheltered ones," Sharpe said.
The annual survey is a mandate of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to get a snapshot on the number and demographics of the national homeless population. Results from Fort Smith's Jan. 22 survey were sent to the Homeless Management Information System in Little Rock and released Friday.
Volunteers from the Salvation Army, Next Step Day Room and Community Rescue Mission conducted the survey with a 24-hour window to interview the homeless in the city, and also traveled to camp sites where homeless people were likely to stay, a coalition news release states.
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