Loudon County homeless count to help earn grants for resources



LOUDON (WATE) - Dozens of volunteers hit the streets Thursday in Loudon County to count the homeless. The volunteers hope their efforts will eventually help the community.

Joyce Cross was part of the count. She lost her home two years ago and has lived in a small camper since then.

"We don't even have any homeless shelters here in Loudon. They are all up in Knoxville, and they don't even have anywhere to go down here," Cross said.

To try and change that, Kathleen Bailey and about two dozen volunteers are spending the day searching Loudon County for people who don't live in homes.

The more people they find and count, the more money Loudon County will receive for assistance.

"If we could get grants, it would help. In other words, where we would be able to help them would be with housing. Even if it were just for a month and get them into a housing situation where they could pay so much rent for one month and that possibility would let them to be able to maybe get a job and maybe they would be self sustaining," Bailey explained.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires a national count of the homeless. Volunteers record a homeless person's age, gender and where they slept the previous night.

The information is used for grant applications. Grants help pay for resources and services to help the homeless in the area.

Depending on the number of homeless, thousands of dollars could go to local agencies. Bailey hopes there will soon be more help for the homeless in Loudon County.

"This would give them some hope that they would be able to maintain their lives and go on," she said.

Cross is thankful for the volunteers' efforts and says more assistance is desperately needed.

"I appreciate it. There are a lot of people out here going hungry. They really are. I've seen people struggle from day to day, and it's getting worse," Cross said.

HUD defines homelessness as a person who lives somewhere not meant for housing. The precariously housed are also counted as homeless. Those are people staying with friends or family who would otherwise be homeless.

Morning Pointe Assisted Living and Alzheimer's Disease care center is holding Souper Bowl 2012, a soup drive for the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County, an emergency assistance organization.

To participate, drop off cans of soup at Walmart or Food City in Lenoir City. The goal is 2,012 cans of soup by the end of February.