CCU students help HUD count Horry homeless population
The students, mostly from CCU’s sociology classes about poverty and race, will visit 11 different food pantries, shelters and places in the county where the homeless gather, according to Stephanie Southworth, Ph.D., lecturer of sociology at CCU, who is also the county coordinator for Horry County for the second year.
“The point-in-time count is an annual count of the homeless,” said Southworth, who has involved CCU students both years. “It is done every year in all counties in the U.S. for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The East Coast Homelessness organization (ECHO) is organizing the Point in Time count for 11 counties in South Carolina.”
The PIT count is an important factor in HUD’s calculations to determine the level of funding needed to help the homeless, and it also helps measure what progress is being made to address this national issue. CCU students like Hailey Minten consider the count an opportunity to learn about their community and themselves.
“Last year when we decided to help count the homeless, I was timid,” said Minten, a sophomore majoring in sociology from Ashland, Wis. “I wasn’t too sure how it was going to work, and how they would react when we wanted to learn more about them. I remember last year was very cold, and those of us who were conducting the PIT count were all bundled up, but some of the people we surveyed didn’t even have shoes. I felt that it was really eye-opening – the amount of gratitude they had when we would give them a small bag with socks and a few other items.”
Public awareness and volunteer participation are crucial for a successful outcome, according to the ECHO website. Volunteers are essential to locate the homeless who have not been counted by outreach workers and homeless organizations.
ECHO is the regional nonprofit program that assists the homeless with resources such as housing. It covers 12 counties: Horry, Sumter, Florence, Georgetown, Chesterfield, Marlboro, Darlington, Clarendon, Dillon, Lee, Williamsburg and Marion.