Breaking News
More () »

COVID-19 puts San Antonio's annual counting of the homeless population on hold

Referred to as the "point-in-time court," the effort gathers data on homeless San Antonians in order to provide them with better resources.

SAN ANTONIO — In a normal, non-pandemic year, January would play host to the annual point-in-time count—a coordinated effort between hundreds of volunteers to gather valuable information on the local homeless population, in order to better provide a route for them to emerge out of it. 

But this isn't a normal year.

“Due to COVID-19 and safety concerns, we decided to cancel the event this year,” said Katie Vela, executive director of the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH). 

Instead, SARAH is collecting supplies requested by its partner organizations that provide services to the homeless population.

“They identified socks, blankets, masks, and so we're asking the community to safely drive by and drop off donations,” Vela said.

She says that,  addition to the Tuesday drive, the day is being set aside to recognize the efforts of street outreach workers.

“They've continued to operate safely but also put themselves at risk by providing these services,” she said.

The point-in-time count provides a benchmark measurement of the homeless population and the problems they face year to year. Sarah is still putting together the report, but through different methods.

“Our homeless service providers are counting everyone who's currently in their program. To get an estimate for unsheltered homelessness, we're looking at our Homeless Management Information System data over the last year.”

Vela says that by using these less direct approaches, they can still provide valuable information about demographic changes in the homeless community and the needs face moving forward.

“What will be missing is kind of a yardstick measurement from one year to the next; our total unsheltered population compared to the year before,” she said. “I think we’ll be able to draw a lot of meaningful conclusions, out of the data we have over the course of an entire year.”

SARAH is encouraging people donate to their efforts through their Change the Way We Give platform. They are matching donations of up to $5,000 collected through Friday.

Before You Leave, Check This Out