All day Wednesday, volunteers will be canvassing Wyoming’s homeless shelters and streets in an effort to come up with a sort of homeless census.
The annual effort is what’s called a homeless ‘point-in-time’ count. The results are used by agencies like the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine how much funding and assistance is needed in the state.
Brenda Lyttle with the Department of Family Services is Wyoming’s homeless coordinator. She says last year, Wyoming’s count of homeless residents was about one-thousand.
“And this might sound counterintuitive, but we are hoping actually that this year, we have more than last year,” Lyttle says. “We believe that we missed some folks last year. So, if things go the way we want, this year our count will be higher.”
This year’s count comes just before the release of Governor Mead’s 10-year plan to end homelessness in Wyoming. Speaking in the Capitol Tuesday, Mead said efforts to identify the state’s homeless are crucial.
“We do that in part to draw attention to the issue,” said Mead. “We do it in part to provide better opportunities for funding from the federal government. But we always do it with an eye towards—we want to help those people who are down on their luck.”
Wednesday’s count serves not only to get an accurate picture of how many homeless people live in Wyoming, but also the root causes of homelessness in the state.
Those interested in volunteering themselves should contact the Department of Family Services.