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'Point in time' count to tally those experiencing homelessness

Max Johnston
Interlochen Public Radio
An encampment in Traverse City, 2020. Photo Credit: Max Johnston

A group of people will gather Wednesday night in northern Michigan for an annual one-day count of those experiencing homelessness.

The “point-in-time” count is required for service providers who want to access federal funding. It typically falls on the last Wednesday of January across the country.

The Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness will send teams to count people in Antrim, Benzie, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties.

“Most of those counties are very rural so unlike a big metropolitan area, we don’t have a lot of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness that we don’t already know about,” said Ashley Halladay-Schmandt, director of the coalition.

The coalition starts at the beginning of the month, leading up to the one day count.

“So we’ll go [Wednesday] and interact with those folks, make sure they’re already connected to services and if they’re not we’ll offer services," Halladay-Schamndt said. Then we take that data, compile it, then submit it to the federal government.”

Last year, the coalition counted over 164 people experiencing homelessness, five of those unsheltered.

But Halladay-Schmandt said that’s just on one night.

"It's not the most accurate," she said. " People are transient and they move around."

The coalition estimates about 250 people are experiencing homelessness in the region, with about 40 of those unsheltered.

Find a full table of data from "Point in Time" counts in Michigan and across the country here.

Tyler Thompson is a reporter at Interlochen Public Radio.