If ever there was a more appropriate use of the word "bullshit" in describing something I've never seen it. The HUD mandated homeless Point-in-Time (PIT) count is complete and total bullshit.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities to complete the count in order to receive federal funding for homeless programs.
Some "experts" say it under counts homeless people by half or more.
In 2018 the Summit County Ohio Continuum of Care used our tent village and day center as a center for counting homeless people.
Their homeless numbers increased by 71% that year. Duh! Some homeless people finally came out of hiding and stayed at our village. It's not shocking. It's just common sense.
But here's the thing. They didn't say our village helped them more accurately count homeless people. They BLAMED us for the homeless increase.
This past year we have seen an increase in homelessness. In exploring the cause of this increase, it appears the growth and development of the Second Chance Village is a primary factor. Since the opening of the village, our unsheltered homeless population grew by 71 percent in one year.
It wasn't that we just never could count homeless people accurately before. No. They were saying people loved living in a tent in January in Northeast Ohio SO much that we increased homelessness.
The reason they were so upset was because they were cooking the books of homeless numbers for the previous 5 years and we called them on it. They wrote:
For the past five years, the county has seen a reduction in the number of people living homeless, culminating in the declaration of functional zero for veteran homelessness.
"Functional zero" for veteran homelessess is a total, blatant, dangerous lie. Ask anyone who actually helps homeless veterans on the streets how there are zero homeless veterans and they'll laugh you out of the room.
And here's another lie:
As stated above, the community has the beds available, the community has the financial support available, and the community has the support services in place and available for every resident of the Second Chance Village.
They never were able to house "every resident" and when they couldn't they just blamed the homeless people and not themselves. The Continuum of Care never does anything wrong. Just ask them.
So, if our village wasn't actually the CAUSE of an increase in homelessness but instead a mildly more accurate measure of homelessness that means we have been undercounting by 71%. But we always had a waiting list. So that means that they weren't off by 71%. They were off by MUCH more.
I truly believe we could fill up a 50 person homeless village in every one of our 10 wards in Akron.
In 2017 we counted 78 unsheltered homeless. With our village that number surged to 137 in 2018. (That's from here.)
What I'm telling you is that a more accurate unsheltered number isn't 137. It's closer to 500! And really... That number feels low to me. (Don't forget, Akron has the highest eviction rate in Ohio and the 24th highest in the country. We are churning out new homeless people every single day.)
But this year, because we no longer have our village or day center the number will likely go back to around 78.
That is the dictionary definition of BULLSHIT!
It infuriates me because we are talking about American citizens. Walking, talking human beings that have every right to live in this country and we are intentionally burying the truth on the backs of our most in need citizens. We are torturing American citizens by abandoning them on the violent, freezing streets of America to make our numbers look good.
My wife asked me why, if I'm so upset about these numbers, I don't go out and set the record straight.
I'll tell you why: I have no idea where these people are. There is no way on Earth I possibly could find these people. They are terrified of authority figures. They don't trust anyone. Everyone is a threat. So they are in deep hiding. And even if I could find 50 people, which I might be able to do, most of them wouldn't answer my questions. They aren't going to tell me shit.
At any given time I'd say 20-30% of the homeless people I know are pissed off at me for any number of reasons. So there's 3 out of 10 that I could find that wouldn't give me the time of day.
On top of all this, everything has to do with the turnout of the volunteers. I mean, if no one volunteered then we'd record zero homeless people. So then we could say we solved homelessness in Akron Ohio. Just like that we would have "functional zero homelessness" of ALL homeless people in Akron. Our CoC loves lying so much I don't know why they don't just commit and go all in on the Big Kahuna.
To make it worse, everyone that does this count knows it's bullshit. But they do it because their HUD overlord told them to do it. They will just hit the number that they think makes them look like they are doing their job. Then HUD will give them the same amount of money they gave them last year and nothing actually gets better. It's just bullshit. Everybody knows it. And it does nothing to actually help homeless people. It just pays another year's salaries for overpaid executives.
I will NOT be participating in this year's point-in-time count to help social worker executives get richer while further oppressing our houseless brothers and sisters.