Cities of Killeen, Temple conduct annual point-in-time count to gauge homelessness situation in Bell County

Volunteers surveyed people living in shelters, on the streets or on the verge of becoming homeless
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 5:42 PM CST
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Thursday marked the the annual point-in-time (PIT) count in Bell County, which is aimed at taking a snapshot of homelessness in Temple and Killeen.

“We’ve recruited a lot of volunteers from a lot of different organizations to help us look at identifying some critical information we need to help understand what all the issues are our homeless are facing in Central Texas,” George Losoya, the director for the Area Agency on Aging and organizer, told KWTX.

In a span of 24 hours, volunteers survey people living in shelters, on the streets or on the verge of becoming homeless, while also giving out bags of food and necessities.

“Our focus is just to collect the data, which in turn collects the funding,” Tanya Roper, a board member of the Central Texas Homeless Coalition, said. “It brings in more funding to the area.”

Organizers say this year’s count is especially important after the pandemic forced previous counts to be virtual, and less volunteers could help out.

“COVID-19 really shut us down for the last three years,” Losoya said. “And so this is the first time we’re gonna get an accurate count of those individuals who are experiencing homelessness.”

According to last year’s count, 320 people across Bell, Coryell, Hamilton & Lampasas counties were unhoused.

Sandra Stiller, one of the women at the Feed My Sheep counting location in Temple today, was one of those 320. While she has since found housing, she says that she was “waking up in the rain, in the cold, with nowhere to go except here,” when she was unhoused.

Organizers say they’re expecting even higher numbers this year, especially across certain demographics.

“The thing that we’ve really seen an increase in the last year is individuals who are older in age, 55 and up,” Roper said. “We’ve also seen a lot of women the last couple of years. We’re seeing probably 40-50% that are women.”

Once all of the data is compiled from Thursday’s count, a full report should be available by spring that will help determine how much funding these counties will receive towards homelessness resources.