Counting Jelly Beans While They are in Motion
The Akron Beacon Journal reported today that homelessness had dropped in Summit County. The article itself has contradictory information with COHHIO having different numbers. This all does not make any sense when compared to the US Census numbers. In 2006, a little over 12% of the total population in Summit County were living in poverty. In 2007, the Census shows over 14% of the population living in poverty with about 10,000 more poor people than in 2006. So, if poverty increased, how could homelessness decrease? How does the most extreme expression of poverty decrease when poverty increased? The figures from the National Alliance to End Homelessness are incorrect. The numbers cited in the ABJ article are based on a flawed system for counting homeless people, and should not be part of the discussion.
We have talked about this before, but once again this research is based on the annual count required by HUD every year. This is where a bunch of volunteers go out and try to count people where they are sleeping on one morning. This is similar to counting jellybeans while they are in motion. People move around all day. Homeless people go to work at 4 a.m., and others are returning from third shift around the same time. It is hard to tell one homeless person who is sleeping from the guy walking down the street with a large bag. Every city has a different method for attempting this impossible task including giving out rewards for the simple fact of being counted. There is variation from year to year on how the count is done, the area covered, and the diligence of the volunteers. It is rediculous to use these numbers for anything. It is a waste of time, and NEOCH never participates. There will be this big report put together. A bunch of researchers will put their name on these meaningless words and will get paid to produce future door stops.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.