Volunteers begin annual count of homeless persons in Rockford

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 10:58 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Rockford started it’s annual count of homeless on Monday, a federal requirement that serves as a snapshot in time of the amount of need there is for those living on the streets.

“We just want to know who we have on our streets,” said Rockford Homeless Program coordinator, Angie Walker. “We want to know who is out there.”

Walker oversees the homeless programs for the City of Rockford. She says knowing who is without shelter in the region, is why they keep up with the Point-in-Time Count every year.

“We go out searching in as many nooks and crannies as we can, looking for people who may be outside,” said Walker.

Even though it’s required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it also allows volunteers to learn more about the lives of people living on the streets.

“They’re not numbers, they’re actual humans,” said Walker. “So you need to have human contact with them.”

Groups of first responders, leaders and volunteers get into teams ahead of their evening and morning counts. Shelters, parks, and abandoned buildings are among the places they visit.

“That could be any of us, at any time,” said Jubilee Center director and volunteer, Daysia Dismuke.

Dismuke has 16 years under her belt working with people in the area who don’t have shelter. She believes knowing how many people are touched by homelessness, creates an understanding of the obstacles each person faces.

“The more we know, the more we can help so that is important,” said Dismuke. “It’s just my passion to help others, and being able to give back to those who are in need.”

Both Dismuke and Walker say the Point-in-Time report helps community organizations get funding and identify gaps, so they can bridge them.

“We want to know what type of services, and help they need so they can get housed and off the streets,” said Walker.