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Annual Survey Tracks Homelessness In Mississippi

By Evelina Burnett | Published 28 Jan 2014 10:05am | comments
Lynda Favre heads out to survey the homeless in Biloxi.

Social service agencies and volunteers are heading out to the streets, soup kitchens, woods and beaches this week to survey the number of homeless in Mississippi. MPB’s Evelina Burnett went out with one survey volunteer on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Jan. 27.

"OK, who is in your household?"

Lynda Favre asks survey questions of Joe Lott, or Hobo Joe as he likes to be called, as they sit in his campsite in Gulfport.

"How many times have you been homeless?" she asks.

"Thirty-five, 40 years," he answers.

Favre, who runs the homeless service group Shepherd of the Gulf, has been out all day. She's carrying a clipboard with copies of a survey of the homeless that asks everything from names and birth dates to disabilities and military service.

"And if they're a veteran, do they have benefits, or are without benefits but eligible," she says. "It's a very in-depth survey, and I think it covers a lot of areas that we need to know about so we can get them the help they need in those specific areas."

Mary Simons is director of the Open Doors Homeless Coalition, which organizes the survey in Mississippi's six lower counties. She says the survey is done nationally at the same time so that the statistics that result can be used to track trends and create plans for providing services to the homeless.

"We collect these numbers for our local area," she says. "They're compiled with the other two continuums-of-care in Mississippi, to where we get a statewide set of numbers. And those are compiled with the whole nation, so when you see the number of people experiencing homelessness at any given point - this is where the numbers come from."

The Partnership to End Homelessness organizes the point-in-time survey in the Jackson area. Mississippi United to End Homelessness coordinates the survey in the other 71 counties.

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Lynda Favre heads out to survey the homeless in Biloxi.


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