Aiken County Homeless Coalition begins analyzing P.I.T Count data
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. - Aiken County is working to measure its homeless population, just like the one completed in Augusta. It's known as a point-in-time count. Aiken County completed its week-long count on Sunday, Jan. 28.
"The world has changed; Aiken has changed since 2019. The dynamic of the level of homelessness that we had...has changed," said April Tiller, Co-Coordinator for Aiken County Homeless Coalition PIT Count.
Tiller is also the Captain of the Salvation Army in Aiken. She helped coordinate this year's Point-In-Time Count for Aiken County. It has been five years since the county has participated in the annual PIT Count.
The PIT Count reflects the number of sheltered or unsheltered homeless people in the area. Project Manager, Daniel Anton says they've had to start from the ground up since this is their first year starting back.
"Aiken is about the same size as Rhode Island. So, because we've had so much to work with, we really just had to build ourselves," said Anton.
The Aiken County Homeless Coalition couldn't do it alone. The organization had help from other local organizations. Kurt Johnson is the Pastor for Lost Sheep Ministers of South Carolina. He was in charge of the outreach portion.
"We're treating them like people. When we start doing that as a community, instead of just saying here is a homeless person or someone who shouldn't be here. Then we will start seeing a difference in our community." Said Pastor Johnson.
For those counting, Co-Coordinator Mary Anton says it's a delicate process, and it's important to respect others' spaces.
"We didn't go into their homes because they do consider where they are their homes," said Anton.
The way that they've decided to go about the PIT Count is by hosting events and inviting those who are in need to them. Organizers told FOX54 that by doing it that way they were able to connect with a lot of people.
The Aiken County Coalition is currently processing all of the data they've collected over the past week, which should be ready by the end of February. This is only the beginning for them. Next, they will be figuring out ways to help provide for the needs of people in Aiken County.
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