Organization uses new app to conduct yearly homeless census

DALLAS-- One by one, volunteers hit the Dallas streets to tackle the issue of homelessness.

“We really need to know how many folks are living on the street, because they shouldn’t be living on the street and this is the way we get the financial support to make some changes,” volunteer Jo Giudice said.

Members of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance wander the cold streets every year to see what many of us ignore.

“When we compare it year to year, it gives us an idea of the nature and extent of homelessness and the numbers and the locations,” Cindy Crane with the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance said.  “Last year we found just over a thousand people unsheltered, we’ve done a lot of extensive street outreach in the last year really transforming our system of care.”

This time, the members were armed with a new process.

“For many years, we used paper surveys to count the homeless. Now, we just have an app that asks the very specific questions in an order and that literally, we are able to see the activity live on a home control panel,” Crane said.

The new app seems to be a step in the right direction.

“It’s made the process a lot simpler than the days when we had to do it on paper,” Giudice said.

That doesn’t mean it’s any easier for the volunteers who have the tough task of seeing first hand, the struggle to survive.

“It’s unfortunate that we will see as many people as we are probably going to see, so that part is good and bad, right? We need to count them but we wish we didn’t have to count them,” Giudice said.

The organization still has to finish up the count and tally all the numbers.

For now, all anyone can do is hope.

“I’m really hoping we find fewer homeless this year. Last year we were about right at 3,800 unsheltered and in our emergency shelters. So, I’m hoping that it hasn’t grown,” Crane said.

The organization will release a final tally around March.