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Twin Falls organizations work to document housing insecurity

Main Ave in Twin Falls on a sunny day
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio

Each year, organizations around the country try to get an accurate count of the number of people facing housing insecurity through a survey called the “Point-in-Time Count.”

Over the course of a week, volunteers ask people experiencing homelessness, in and out of shelters, where they slept on Wednesday, January 26.

The numbers they collect, especially how many people in a community are experiencing homelessness and are living outside of shelters, affect how much money Idaho gets to serve those populations through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Currently, Idaho receives more than $3 million for programs that serve people experiencing homelessness, according to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.

Some organizations in the Magic Valley are increasing their Point-in-Time count efforts this year, in hopes that it will lead to a more accurate picture of those facing homelessness.

“The homeless population is much bigger than we see," said Randy Wastradowski, the community services director at South Central Community Action Partnership in Twin Falls.

With high housing costs in Idaho, he said homelessness in the Magic Valley can look different from what people often imagine.

“You have families that are homeless because they’ve been priced out of their housing. You have families that have been evicted," he said.

This year, in addition to visiting area shelters, volunteers with South Central Community Action and the nonprofit Everybody House will set up three stations around town this Saturday.

“We have blankets to give out, $5 McDonald's gift cards and personal hygiene to give out for those who do the survey," Wastradowski said.

Volunteers can sign up on the Everybody House website and will need to complete a short training.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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