Local agencies gathering info on NE Missouri homelessness

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 4:05 AM CST
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HANNIBAL (WGEM) - Just because you don’t see someone sleeping on a park bench or in their car doesn’t mean homelessness doesn’t exist in your community.

NECAC officials said they are seeing an increasing in the number of homeless people in Northeast Missouri.

In order to get a better understanding of the numbers, NECAC and other organizations are collecting data on homelessness in Northeast Missouri for their annual report for the Balance of State Continuum of Care.

Ralls County Service Coordinator Stephanie Dunker said they and other organizations go to areas where homeless people are known to gather to get information and data from them. She said they gather information on unsheltered, which is homeless who sleep in either tents, cars, or areas not meant for people to live in; and sheltered, which are people who live with friends or family for extended periods of time.

Dunker said the data they gather is important to help reduce the homeless population.

“It helps us all just gain general knowledge about the situations that are in our community’s and knowledge is power,” she said. “When you know more, you can do more. When you can do more, you can better the community.”

She said factors contributing to the rise in homelessness in our area include the rising costs of gas, food, and the state of the economy. She said higher costs can hit people’s budgets and put them at risk for homelessness.

Harvest Outreach’s Loaves and Fishes Program said they are seeing more people using their services.

Douglass Community Services Housing Director Mike Blase said the number of people reaching out for services from Douglass has been increasing as well. He said the data being gathered is important to help those individuals as rising homelessness can have an impact on a community.

“Anytime you have a homeless population, it does impact your community in many ways,” he said. “We are trying to find ways that these people can resolve some of their issues. Sometimes homeless individuals, number one just for the sheer discomfort that they are experiencing. As a human being we want to try to help folks.”

He said he’s hoping that when the results of the data are complied, it’ll help determine where funding needs to go, whether that comes in the form of a state or a federal grant.

That data should be released in the spring.

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