Volunteers took to the streets of Lawton today counting the homeless population
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Volunteers took to the streets of Lawton today, trying to figure out just how many homeless people live in Lawton during the “point in time count.”
The numbers in the count will dictate how much federal funding organizations will receive to provide resources to the homeless.
“In previous years unfortunately Lawton has kind of fallen behind for how many people we were getting counted for that. So we have lost a little bit of funding because our count wasn’t accurate but this year all of the public organizations have come together and collaborated and strategize and all day today we are counting people that need our help the most,” Sarah Svec, Executive Director, of family promise of Lawton said.
In some of the locations, they served free food, handed out survival packages, and let people know about the different resources that are available to help combat homelessness.
“We have a lot of volunteers that are here today and different locations around the city. We have people who are boots on the ground they’re going and finding them wherever they may be,” MaryEllen Colfer, a volunteer said.
They searched abandoned apartments, drainage canals, and anywhere people might go to stay.
Colfer has been volunteering for years and said helping the homeless is very personal for her.
“It’s always been something dear to my heart because when I was 17 I was homeless for a while. And I had this wonderful lady who I later called Aunt Joe I was part of her family to get me off the streets and help rescue me,” Colfer said.
Svec said she’s seen the devastation of not having an accurate count in the past and does not want to see it happen again.
“I have seen how bad it is for people when there are not any funds to help them get housed, there are inadequate low housing opportunities, when there is not enough money to put into personal landlords accounts, basically I have seen the devastation of not having an accurate count,” Svec said.
The count ended at 2 pm and they plan on submitting the numbers later tonight.
The volunteers said while today is very important, they are asking the community to join them in helping the homeless whenever they can, whether it’s volunteering, donating, or giving a homeless person food.
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