On Sept 11. The Association of US Army (AUSA) Soldier-Family Council will team up with Southwest Oklahoma Continuum of Care (SWOCOC) in the second annual ‘I Count’ homeless survey.

This survey will be conducted in 16 counties across Southwest Oklahoma which include: Beckham, Caddo, Comanche, Cotton, Garvin, Grady, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Jefferson, Kiowa, McClain, Roger Mills, Stephens, Tillman and Washita.

In this 24-hour period, volunteers will travel to homeless camps and other known homeless dwellings in the 16 counties. These volunteers will collect general information such as gender, age, number of homeless in that encampment, family members that are homeless, if they are a veteran as well other data.

Counting and gathering this information will help government and private agencies to gather resources necessary to help the southwest Oklahoma homeless have receive assistance in housing and rental as well as case management.

Jervis Jackson, Director of SWOCOC states that although last year’s survey had documented five times as many homeless than previously counted, Jackson still feels that there are many homeless that are not yet accounted for.

“In last year’s count, we documented almost 500 homeless persons and family members, 26 percent or 127 of whom were veterans. This compares to the 100 previously documented homeless in SW Oklahoma in January 2012, including only 16 homeless veterans. We know last year’s survey undercounted the homeless, even with a dramatic increase in numbers.  With this [year] and subsequent surveys, we expect the counts to be even more accurate.”

Last year, some homeless citizens did not even know that they qualified and were eligible for services. According to the ‘I Count’ press release, the survey considers anyone that is sleeping on a couch temporarily at a friend or family members home. The press release also states that the survey also counts a person as homeless if they “lack a regular, fixed, stable nighttime residence, including in transitional housing or an emergency shelter.”

The survey also counts Native Americans as being homeless by not only the previously listed reasons, but these circumstances as well:

“Native Americans who qualify as homeless sometimes don’t think of themselves as homeless because they share in the ownership of a home as descendent inheritors with multiple other Native Americans—even when they can’t live in their homes. If the Native American cannot live in the home in which he or she is part owner and has no fixed, stable nighttime residence, then he or she qualifies for homeless services.”

Anyone who wishes to volunteer in the ‘I Count’ survey can contact Jervis Jackson at 580.695.7370 or by email at JJackson@Lawtonhousing.org.

Training will begin on Sept 4. for Comanche County volunteers. The training will be held at 9 a.m., at The Worley Center (Building 300) at the Great Plains Technology Center. Volunteer training for the other counties will be held prior.

If you know anyone that is homeless or if you’re homeless yourself then head to one of these survey sites to fill out the form with the survey volunteers at these locations:

Feeding Site:  St John’s Baptist Church, 1504 SW N.H. Jones Street, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm,

Feeding Site: Salvation Army, 1306 SW E. Avenue, 6:00 - 6:30 pm

Distribute Clothing and Groceries: Faith-Based Christian Church, 1100 SW F Avenue, 11:00am – 3:00 pm