Amarillo Continuum of Care conducts annual Point In Time count, determining HUD funding for homeless population

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The City of Amarillo’s annual point in time (PIT) count took place Friday.

Each city’s continuum of care (CoC) program counts the number of people experiencing homelessness, both sheltered and unsheltered, on a single night. It is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) each year.

The numbers from the PIT count will help HUD to determine the funding Amarillo needs to help our homeless community.

The day began on Friday with a resource fair at the Guyon Saunders Resource Center, where several people who are without homes checked in ahead of the PIT count.

“As people come into the door, we’re making sure we get them updated into our homeless management information system, making sure they have service point IDs. That’s how we identify them, we count them. We know where they stayed last night and with this system, we’re able to better help them get routed in the right directions,” said Heather Neeley, a social worker for the city’s Coming Home Program.

Volunteers then go throughout the city, finding and counting the homeless, asking them questions about their experiences.

Amy Dixon, the CoC and Homeless Management Information System coordinator, said the information is reported back to HUD.

“We’re asking surveys just kind of get basic information and trying to figure out how long they’ve been on the streets, if they have any medical conditions, anything that we can help let HUD know that we need additional resources and our community,” Dixon said.

Eventually, HUD funding will go to programs within the CoC, focusing on housing first, like the Coming Home Program.

RELATED: City of Amarillo’s ‘Coming Home’ program a ‘blessing’ for the chronically homeless

“Once we get them housed, we go out and we help them with food stamp applications, perhaps job searches, remove them into the homes provide the initial setup, and we’re in that home two to three times a week we can provide case management,” Neeley added.

Volunteers and agencies are working together toward a common goal, focusing on those most vulnerable first, and ultimately moving people out of the shelter.

“It’s really ending homelessness for that individual to hopefully break the cycle,” said Steve Smart, the executive director of Another Chance House who sits on the CoC board of directors, “and over time, hopefully, that will end homelessness in Amarillo.”

Volunteers will continue the pit count until 6 a.m. Saturday. A second pit count will take place in the summer.

Dixon said the homeless population decreased in July from last January.
She said she hopes the housing first model will continue to help.

As MyHighPlains previous reported, based on 2019 figures, the Amarillo CoC was granted more than half a million dollars from HUD for our homeless programs.

RELATED: Amarillo receives $580,000 in HUD grants for homeless programs

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