AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The city of Amarillo’s Community Development department is currently preparing to host its annual Point in Time Count, giving city officials a look at how many homeless individuals reside within the city limits.
During the 2022 PIT Count, conducted last winter, officials counted 539 individuals, 368 of which were identified as unsheltered, according to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com. The data is used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to identify the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the city, determining the effectiveness of HUD programs and policies.
The next PIT Count will be conducted on Jan. 27, Jason Riddlespurger, the director of community development for the city of Amarillo, said. This yearly count gives the department the chance to see where the gaps are in the city and gives them a chance to see what they need to focus on in the coming year.
“It’s a 24-hour snapshot of the number of homeless living in Amarillo. We put together a lot of our volunteers,” Riddlespurger said. “They go out in cars, in teams of two or three. They’ll locate folks who appear to be living as homeless and they will interview them, talk with them, find out their demographics, their situation, so we can gather a lot of really good data that comes back to our department and then we share that with our continuum of care.”
Volunteers for the count include anyone 18 and older willing to help the department, Riddlespurger said. He stressed that the department can never have enough, saying that they need a minimum of 80 volunteers.
“But, the more the merrier,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of places to go throughout the city. The more eyes we have out there, the better we are at making sure we are counting everyone who needs to be counted.”
All volunteers are required to participate in training prior to participating in the actual count. The department is offering the following training times for those interested:
- 10 a.m. on Jan. 20 in room 275 of the Simms Building, located at 808 S Buchanan in downtown Amarillo
- 2 p.m. on Jan. 20 in room 275 of the Simms Building
- 10 a.m. on Jan. 23 in room 275 of the Simms Building
- 2 p.m. on Jan. 23 in room 275 of the Simms Building
- 5 p.m. on Jan. 25 in a virtual Zoom meeting (Meeting ID: 777 329 3524)
The city’s community development department is also asking for donations for volunteers to give to members of the homeless community during the 2023 count. The items the department is looking for include:
- Body wipes
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes
- Bottled water/packs
- Hand warmers
- Hand sanitizers
- Pre-packaged snacks
- Hard candy
- Small blankets
- Feminine hygiene
- Any other winter essentials
Donations can be brought to the department’s offices at the Simms Building, officials said.