Addressing The Need Of The Homeless In Iron County
Coming up later this month, volunteers from the community will join with staff from the Iron County Care and Share to participate in the annual Point in Time, or PIT count here in Iron County. The PIT count is a count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developement (HUD) requires an annual count of people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night.
James Jetton, the Interim Director of the Iron County Care and Share was on the radio show with us to explain how the count impacts services offered by the Care and Share, and to report on the increase use of services asked of the Care and Share.
Jetton told us,“we've got the food pantry, we've got our our emergency homeless shelter, we've got drop in services where we provide hot meals, showers, laundry to folks during the day. Over at our shelter, we run case management services to assist people finding resources.”
Jetton explained that the State of Utah distributes grants to local homeless councils and the amount of those grants is dependent on many factors, including the annual PIT count. “What they've done is they've set up this kind of formula that takes into account your point in time count numbers, your service levels, poverty in the area. There's a bunch of different factors that are taken in to consideration, and what they're going to do is they take the amount of money that the state makes available. They plug it into that formula and then, according to that formula, it's going to dictate what the local homeless council service area receives. Then it's kind of up to the local homeless council to sort of decide which organization is is going to get the preferred application.”
This year the PIT count is scheduled for Thursday, January 25th. Community members and staff from organizations go out into the community and try to get a head count of how many people are living unsheltered in our service area.
Jetton did indicate that Utah is making an effort to address the lack of affordable housing in the state. “I don't know if you caught the governor when he was talking about budget for the upcoming year,” Jetton Said. “Wayne Niederhauser, who's the head of the office of homeless services here in Utah, made a statement during that press conference that the state of Utah is 77,000 affordable units short of what the need is here.”
The office homeless services is is very responsive to rural Utah according to Jetton. “They're very in tune, I think, with the needs of of the state. Going back a couple of years, I don't think rural areas such as ours had much of a voice at the state level. I think that's shifting some, which I think is a great thing.”
You can listen to our entire segment with Jetton along with Neal Smith, who serves on the Intergenerational Poverty Committee, below.