CCU students help HUD count local homeless population
Forty-two Coastal Carolina University students volunteered to help count the local homeless population for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Point-In-Time (PIT) count, taken every year in January, helps to identify needs and allocate federal resources.
The students, mostly from CCU’s social inequality and race and ethnicity classes, visited 12 different shelters and places where the homeless gather, according to Stephanie Southworth, lecturer of sociology at CCU, who is also HUD’s county coordinator for Horry County.
“Every county in the state conducts a PIT count,” said Southworth. “In addition to participating in the count, the students also spent time volunteering in the shelters this semester. The more homeless we count, the more resources HUD will provide. In the past, the homeless have been vastly undercounted. Hopefully, with all the student volunteers, we will have an accurate count this year.”
Public awareness and volunteer participation are crucial for a successful outcome. 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.
CCU’s Swain Scholars are also working on a homelessness project with the Athenaeum Press.