Tuesday's homeless count determines federal funds

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) Volunteers were spread across Sioux Falls Tuesday to collect surveys for the annual homeless count.

This count does more than collect data to see how many homeless are in each state, it also impacts federal funding.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development requires each state to survey their homeless population every other year, here in South Dakota the homeless count takes place every year.

Homeless count Program Director Suzanne Smith said, “So, this count is important because it is really the only national and longitudinal, meaning we do it every year, data that we have on the size of the population the number of people experiencing homelessness.”

Around 50 Volunteers across Sioux Falls are at homeless shelters throughout the day, gathering information to ultimately help those in need.

“Any health factors, disabilities, mental health factors, substance abuse that are really tied to different programs to make sure that our programs that are available match the population that is experiencing homelessness,” Smith said.

However, getting the proper information isn’t always easy.

“To sit down and answer a survey about your experience and your background can be tough,” Smith added. “But it’s really important that we get that information so that we know that we have complete data and accurate data.”

And that data is used to help fund homeless programs.

“It’s also tied to federal funding, so this is something we are required to report back to the federal government because we receive funding from the federal government for homeless programs,” said Smith.

Over the last five years, the South Dakota homeless count has been steady around 1,000 people.