The HUD-mandated count is being conducted by the Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness in partnership with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home and volunteers from service organizations across the eight-county region.
The count began at noon Wednesday. Through noon on Thursday, volunteer surveyors will visit shelters, public kitchens, service organizations and other locations frequented by people who are homeless ,while outreach teams from ARCH and VAMC canvass streets and known homeless camps.
The surveyors, who can be identified by distinctive green or red vests bearing the ARCH logo, will try to include as many people who are experiencing homelessness as possible in a voluntary survey used by HUD to identify areas of need that can be addressed by funding for housing and other transitional services. ARCH and VAMC will also work to connect those who are homeless and without shelter with resources in their area.
Last year’s count identified a total 405 people who were homeless in the eight counties of Northeast Tennessee, including 85 people in Washington County.
Sullivan County’s greater Kingsport area had the highest concentration of homeless individuals in the 2019 count, with 134 people living in shelters or on the streets in that area.
The numbers compare to 360 people in the eight-county region found in the homeless count in January 2018, and to more than 800 people included in the first point-in-time count conducted here more than a decade ago.
Members or the public are discouraged from approaching homeless camps but can assist in the count by calling the ARCH care line at 1-844-989-2273 to report the location of anyone who is known to be homeless and unsheltered.
The location of any veteran who is homeless and unsheltered should be reported to the local Homeless Veterans Program at 1-877-754-8387 so a VA outreach team member can be sent to meet them.