“You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

That’s the mantra behind a recent initiative aimed at counting the number of homeless people in the municipality of Chatham-Kent.

About 80 volunteers counted and surveyed individuals accessing services at 36 different access points between April 9 and 14, locating 74 respondents who would speak to being homeless.

It’s a key milestone in Chatham-Kent’s campaign to end homelessness, says Chantal Perry, a program manager with Employment and Social Services.

“We now know who is homeless by name, what their needs and vulnerabilities are. We now have the information needed to measure progress towards our ultimate goal: ending homelessness in Chatham-Kent,” Perry says.

The local program is connected to the national 20,000 Homes Campaign and includes a commitment to house the most vulnerable homeless in our community by July 2020.

The count offers a “snapshot” of homelessness in Chatham-Kent. According to Perry, the results indicate the minimum number of people experiencing unsheltered and sheltered homelessness in our community at any given time.

42 per cent of homeless respondents admitted they were precariously sheltered, 42 per cent were hidden homeless and nine per cent were unsheltered.

Due to the rural geography of Chatham-Kent a dedicated phone line was established for those that were unable to access a Registry location.

24 per cent of the survey respondents are indigenous and 23 per cent are youth. Three per cent are military veterans.

It’s said the results will help improve the town’s understanding of the needs and circumstances of the people who are affected by homelessness in that community.

Further preliminary results and information will be released on June 13, 2018 at a Community Information event at 8:30am at the John D Bradley Convention Centre. A more detailed report will be released in October 2018.