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Volunteers count, help Crossroads homeless (Video)

By BY SONNY LONG - SLONG@VICAD.COM
Jan. 24, 2013 at 6 p.m.
Updated Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:24 p.m.

GRAPHIC: Area homeless counts 2004-10. PHOTO: Jeanette Mayo surveys Harold Hill II during the Point In Time Homeless Count at Christ's Kitchen. After completing the survey, volunteers handed out bags filled with toiletries and snacks.

AREA HOMELESS

Homeless counts since 2004 in Victoria, Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson, Lavaca and Refugio counties (unless otherwise noted).

• 2004 - 124

• 2005 - 191

• 2006 - 359

• 2007 - 487

• 2008 - no count held

• 2009 - 222 *

• 2010 - 279

*Calhoun and Victoria counties only

SOURCE: Victoria Area Homeless Coalition

Martha Valdez was happy about Thursday's warmer temperatures in Victoria.

Valdez, 44, and homeless, spends a lot of time on the streets when she can't find a friend to crash with for the night.

"My situation is crucial. It's bad," said Valdez who has been on the streets for about a year after losing the roof over her head after a falling out with a family member. "I'm fending for myself.

"I look for work. That's where I was this morning. I was upset because I missed prayer meeting this morning, because I was looking for work.

"It's a beautiful day," she said, noting the sunny skies. "When it's like this, I feel like I can weather another day out there. God willing."

Valdez was one of dozens of people with housing challenges who filled out surveys Thursday at Christ's Kitchen during the Point In Time Homeless Count.

Across the Crossroads, hundreds of people were also providing information to members of the Victoria Area Homeless Coalition and other count volunteers about their situation - some not very pleasant.

"We saw a couple of people already who don't need to be on the street tonight, and we're going to try to intervene today," said Ginny Stafford, of Mid-Coast Family Services, during a volunteer briefing at Pine Street Community Center. "There are people living out there in some scary situations."

Volunteers surveyed about 50 people at Labor Ready before sunrise Thursday and in addition to Christ's Kitchen, 611 E. Warren Ave., conducted surveys at Victoria Christian Assistance Ministry (VCAM), Victoria Public Library, Salvation Army and four area hotels.

Counts were also conducted in Calhoun, Goliad, Gonzales, Lavaca, DeWitt and Jackson counties.

Those answering surveys were given bags containing toiletries, socks and snack items. Some contained sandwiches.

Kim Pickens, coalition president, said the count has a twofold purpose - to identify and assist those in need and for agencies that provide assistance to qualify for Housing and Urban Development grant funding.

"It is important to be able to identify people who are not only currently homeless but in danger of being homeless," she said. "It's a big net we are trying to cast."

In 2010, 279 homeless people were identified in the seven counties, 222 of those in Victoria.

This year's count totals will be available in a couple of weeks, Stafford said.

She also emphasized the importance of looking at the count as a housing survey.

"We are trying to find out where our housing gaps are," Stafford said. "Approaching it this way also makes it less intrusive for the individual taking the survey.

"If they are about to lose their housing, we can count them as homeless. They may not be homeless today, but they could be next week.

"If we can help a few families today, it's been a good day."

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