Survey Launched To Gauge The Severity Of East Texas Homelessness - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/25/07-Tyler

Survey Launched To Gauge The Severity Of East Texas Homelessness

The Smith County Coalition For The Homeless is conducting its biggest project of the year today:  a homeless survey. The information obtained will be used for the agency to figure out what services are needed and if there are any services that overlap their purpose.

The group began its task at the Salvation Army.  Their mission is to have those who are homeless take a two-page questionnaire the "Point-In-Time Survey". "We're hoping that we will be able to identify the reason they're there, the reason they stay there and if there's something we can do to get them off the street and once we have them off the street, prevent them from becoming homeless again," said Smith County Coalition For The Homeless President Christina Fulsom, who is also the executive director for PATH.

Fulsom says the homeless population has increased for the past 20 years. "Poverty is increasing, because public assistance is decreasing.  Because public assistance is more temporary, employment that doesn't have benefits," said Fulsom.  "There are many moms that are homeless because they're trying to get away from a violent situation."

Cori Hayes, 31, said that was the case for her. She moved from Corsicana to be with her mother to get away from her ex-boyfriend. But then, because of transportation problems, she is now taking shelter at the Salvation Army. "I was having problems because after I had her, I didn't have any transportation to get to work or daycare or anything," said Salvation Army resident Cori Hayes.

Valerie McKinney says she does not know what she would have done without the help of the Salvation Army. "I lost my job because I had no transportation to get back and forth to work. They guy I was staying with threw me out and I didn't know where else to go," said McKinney, another Salvation Army resident.

The Coalition For The Homeless hopes the information gathered will help out those without a home get through their difficult time and help them get back on their feet.  

Fulsom says their preliminary estimates show there are about 130 homeless people living in Smith County. They're still studying their results, which will be presented at a meeting in early February.

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.  ortega@kltv.com

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