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Initiative underway to count, assist homeless population
Homeless camp 2.jpg
Pictured is one of the McMinnville homeless camps located in the area behind Lowe’s and next to Arms Apartments. Local officials are looking to get an accurate count of our homeless population on Jan. 25 and expect the number to well exceed last year’s count of 43.

The homeless population has soared in Warren County in recent years. On Jan. 25, local officials will join the nationwide point-in-time count in an effort to determine our homeless population.

The PIT count is conducted by counting those housed by a charitable organization in hotels and shelters. It also encompasses those living in cars, under bridges, tents, abandoned buildings, or any space that is not designated for habitable living.

Last year’s count, hindered by COVID, found 43 homeless people in Warren County. Numbers are expected to far exceed that total this year.

The data for Warren County will be submitted to Crossville-based HART, which stands for Homeless Advocacy for Rural Tennessee. That organization compiles the data for the Upper Cumberland region. HART is a member of the CoC, Continuum of Care, which is a resource used by HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

County, state, and federal government officials rely on the numbers to determine the severity of the issue in each area. Other key demographics are obtained in the homeless count such as gender, age, veteran status, length of time, and previous occurrences.

HOME, Homeless of McMinnville Effort, will partner with Families in Crisis to perform the 2022 count for Warren County. Organizers admit getting accurate numbers are a challenge because homeless people don’t have a set address and can often be difficult to locate.

“HOME will conduct the counts for anyone that we have sheltered in motels,” said HOME co-director Tina Higgins. “We will also be counting those living in woods, tent, cars, makeshift sheds and other dwellings which meet the HUD criteria as not suitable for habitable living. This year we have invited local law enforcement to join us. Thankfully, we live in a wonderful community where there are many who are willing to give on behalf of others. Going into the woods and under bridges on a cold January evening and talking to a possible stranger is surely a testament to those who are willing to go.”

For anyone wishing to volunteer for the point-in-time count, please call 931668-0702.