Feb 11, 2013

FromSan Francisco Chronicle

Head Counts Help

By Becky Kanis

In his op-ed "Head counts aren't helpful" (Feb. 6), Paul Boden calls for a re-evaluation of head counts of the homeless population but fails to advocate an effective response. The solution to homelessness is not to abandon head counts but to convert them into meaningful tools to help communities.

Head counts provide critical data to the federal government but do little to help the communities that conduct them. A movement of communities called the 100,000 Homes Campaign is changing this by expanding traditional counts to gather person-specific data on homeless individuals. Rather than merely count their homeless neighbors, volunteers interview them, documenting names, ages, health problems, and shelter patterns. These files then stay with local communities. By integrating these details into homeless counts, communities meet federal needs while also collecting information they can use to expedite permanent housing for those they count.

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