January 26, 2018 | Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
By Erica Pauda
The Lubbock Police Homeless Outreach Team, along with the South Plains Homeless Consortium, teamed to conduct their annual Point-In-Time Count on Thursday.
The SPHC consists of various non-profits and other organizations, such as the Open Door, the Salvation Army, United Way and others, said Ashley Ammons, community impact director for the Lubbock Area United Way. The annual count is done nationally, as well as locally, she said.
Ammons said various organizations, including the HOT team, join to determine the homeless population in the community.
"So we all volunteer to come out and take surveys.” she said. “We’re all asking the same questions so we can gather data to really address the homelessness in the community, as well as needs, education levels, races, age, gender, domestic violence (and) mental illness.”
Ammons said the surveys help gather information to use in the future to look at needs to address in the homeless community.
The survey is done through an app called Counting Us, she said. Ammons said this is so the information they’re getting is as accurate as possible.
HOT team Officer Tony Chacon said the information gathered become statistics.
By 11:30 a.m., 148 people were surveyed in the community, he said. Chacon said homeless people live in many different places within the community.“It’s not just downtown,” he said.
Chacon said the HOT team has helped get some of the homeless off the streets — whether it be on a Greyhound bus to stay with family or even to just periodically check on them in their usual camps. He said the homeless initiative is really a community effort with the organizations in the SPHC.
Chacon said a lot of the places the HOT team hit this year were places where homeless people camped last year, but that he didn’t see any in the camps. And, he said, that’s a good thing.
Ammons said while riding along with Chacon she saw the relationship between the HOT team and the homeless.
“(The homeless) trust them, they talk to them, they’re on a first-name basis,” she said. “That’s been really interesting to watch today.”
Ammons said doing the annual count today has been a learning experience for her.
“I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “Going out today has been a great lesson — getting to really see the different areas, especially the work that the HOT team does. It’s just all of the different parts of town that we’ve gone to that I never would’ve thought to even look, and to know that someone’s living there.”