KILLEEN, TX — At the beginning of the year, the Central Texas Homeless Coalition found hundreds of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people across Bell, Coryell, Hamilton and Lampasas counties.
Officials shared, the Point-in-Time (PIT) count provides insight into the area's homeless population and service gaps.
Each year, the Central Texas Homeless Coalition has participated in the January homeless count. This year, for the first time, the Texas Homeless Network has decided to expand those efforts by adding a summer count to the agenda.
"I left Spokane on May 25 of this year. I took five days to get here,” said one of many without shelter in the Killeen-area who Central Texas News Now interviewed.
He has done what he can to get by, and people like Officer Kyle Moore with the Killeen Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team are offering a helping hand.
"What we're doing today is the Texas Point-In-Time count, a summer Point-In- Time count. Basically taking a snapshot of our homeless population," said Officer Moore.
Central Texas Homeless Coalition volunteers and members like Officer Moore spent their Wednesday dropping off necessity bags and used an online survey to learn more about the homeless population.
"Pretty much the only way to understand the trends and stuff that we have in our homeless community. So identifying veterans, identifying those individuals who have found themselves homeless because of domestic violence or things of that nature," said Officer Moore.
So what is the goal of the count?
"It helps to understand homeless. That way if you understand it, now you have [a way] to point them in the direction of social programs and things of that nature," responded Officer Moore.
Each count helps the coalition earn funding and advocate for the homeless population across Central Texas.
Over the past few years, numbers have fluctuated. The January 2016 count found 515 homeless people, 506 in 2017, 325 in 2018. And just last year? The number was 409.
Officer Moore also mentioned, since the Friends In Crisis Homeless Shelter experienced a temporary shutdown this summer, some folks did leave the area. The outreach team was able to help others find housing.