Census Bureau to resume in-person count, record homeless population

CONTRIBUTED
CONTRIBUTED

The U.S. Census Bureau, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, will count the Dayton-area homeless population in the fall.

The Census Bureau will now count homeless between Sept. 22 and 24.

The count for those experiencing homelessness was originally scheduled for March 30-April 1, but health and safety concerns because of the coronavirus forced those activities to be delayed, the Census Bureau said.

The Census Bureau now plans to send specially trained census takers on those days to count people at homeless shelters, soup kitchens and other locations that have been identified by the Census Bureau where people are known to sleep outdoors and at all-night businesses, such as under bridges. Local service providers will take Census counters around the city to places they know homeless people sleep or eat.

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Additionally, Montgomery County officials connected Census staff to their street outreach teams that work with unsheltered households in the community to get prepared to count.

People experiencing homelessness will be counted where they are staying when census takers visit in September.

Jessica Jenkins, assistant director for the Montgomery County Human Services Planning & Development Department, said the county was contacted by the Census staff earlier this year about counting the homeless population.

“Our local shelters began working with Census staff back in January to plan for census takers to use the ‘sampling’ method to count individuals in our homeless shelters,” Jenkins said.

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Census takers will follow the latest local and state public health guidance regarding face masks, gloves and social distancing.

“Census statistics are crucial to programs and service providers that support people experiencing homelessness,” said Census spokeswoman Carol Hector-Harris. “Knowing the number of homeless gives local service providers a better idea of what grants to apply for, what federal funding to expect and so much more.”

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A complete and accurate 2020 Census count can ultimately help organizations provide better services, more food and improved shelter options to those experiencing homelessness in the Miami Valley.

“So much rides on the Census, and it only takes five minutes to fill out, but it makes a big difference,” Hector-Harris said.

The Census Bureau also announced that it started in-person counting in remote areas of the United States back up last week.

Starting August 11, the Census Bureau will follow up with households who do not respond to the 2020 Census. This will end on Oct. 31. Between those dates, residents of the Miami Valley may see Census counters in their neighborhoods.