The state of homelessness in the Midlands and ways to combat it are at the heart of a study to be released next week in Columbia.
The United Way of the Midlands and the Midlands Area Consortium for the Homeless will present the results of the 2009 Homeless Count at 11 a.m. Monday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities that receive federal homeless funding to conduct surveys every two years.
Locally, the survey focused on 14 Midlands counties and included a one-day count of people experiencing homelessness during the last two weeks of January.
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"The report only offers a snapshot of homelessness based on the efforts of volunteers and agencies serving homeless people," said Jennifer Moore, director of the financial stability council for the United Way of the Midlands.
The 2009 Homeless Count lists 1,368 people as homeless in the 14-county area. Of that number, 1,006 were from Richland and Lexington counties.
The count identified as homeless anyone in the following conditions on Jan. 29:
- Living on the street
- Staying in emergency or transitional shelter
- Living in substandard housing or housing not fit for human habitation - without running water or electricity, for example
- Temporarily living in a hotel or motel room paid for by someone else (voucher)
- Temporarily in a hospital or psychiatric hospital who will have nowhere to live upon release
The 2009 count was compiled from volunteers' interviews of the homeless, agency surveys, and data on homeless clients through the Homeless Management Information System.
"Homeless counts are challenging, and while point-in-time data provide a helpful snapshot of community homelessness, it is a limited view," Moore said.
"Homeless people are a hidden population."
The Midlands Area Consortium for the Homeless was established in 1994 to serve as a planning coalition to improve services and housing for people who are homeless.
Counties included in the recent survey are Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland and York.
The 2009 Homeless Count was the third statewide count conducted in South Carolina. Monday's presentation at Trinity, 1100 Sumter St., is open to the public.