Annual Point-In-Time Homeless Count Underway In Topeka

Point-In-Time Homeless Count 2013
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Volunteers and law enforcement officials took to the streets Wednesday to conduct the 2013 Point-In-Time count of the homeless.

They collected information on people living in shelters and on the streets from 6 am until 8 pm.

The data they gather will be used to report homeless trends to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We're along the rivers, checking buildings, just looking where people may be seeking shelter from the cold,” said Janene Falley, a detective with the Topeka Police Department.

For most of Topeka's homeless the winter is a big concern. Many have little to shield them against the cold aside from the tarps that line their tents.

“It'll get cold, but it's not too bad,” said Chris Justice, who is currently living in a tent under the Kansas Avenue Bridge. “It's bearable, as long as it's not snowing or if you have to get out of the tent in the middle of the night for any reason. I had bronchitis last year. Went to the hospital, got meds, and just stayed inside.”

The government will use the data from the count to determine how much federal funding Shawnee County will receive for homeless services.

“We need to find those that aren't able to help themselves,” said Falley, who spent the day canvassing for homeless individuals. “We're trying to empower people that need to get connected to community services, get connected to help, medical services or just day-to-day needs.”

For Justice, the count is not about the possibility of personal benefits. Instead, he hopes it will raise awareness about Topeka’s homeless and bring help to those who need it most.

“There are quite a few people that are in this situation and homeless,” said Justice “And you know, I'd like to see them possibly get in somewhere.”

Shawnee County received almost $2 million of federal funding after last year's count.