The Texas County Food Pantry conducted its summer Point in Time (PIT) count on Saturday, July 27.
According to the results of the survey, 48 people qualify as living in homelessness in Texas County, including 29 adults and 19 children.
A significant portion of the county’s homeless (29-percent) live in Plato, where dilapidated and abandoned farm houses are rented to multiple families that dwell within one structure. Food Pantry executive director Sister Clare Reinert points out that they are not squatters; they do pay rent on a monthly basis or face eviction.
The PIT count showed that four people in Licking and one in Cabool live on the street with no housing.
Eight households were “doubled-up,” meaning two or more families live in the same house. Some persons living in these conditions are working and one worker may pay the rent for the entire household.
Reinert indicated that in Plato, where the problem of homelessness is greater than elsewhere in the county, housing for low-income people seems to be non-existent and that new housing rents for $700 to $800 per month. In one household of 13 people (six adults and seven children), the total household income was $793 per month, or about $9,500 annually.
None of the 13 had applied for HUD assistance in the past.
Nine individuals or family groups were homeless less than a year, while eight claimed to have been homeless for more than a year. One male stated he had been homeless for more than five years.
Among those doubled-up, the main reason given for staying in the situation was support and help from Plato Schools.
“The children like the schools and the teachers, and the teachers like them,” Reinert said. “Even the bus drivers are happy to see them.”
The food pantry has begun assisting some of the people from the survey. Through funds from a Missouri Housing and Trust Fund grant, several families have been placed in homes and rent and utilities have been paid for a month.
Some have been started on a job search program through the Missouri Career Center and other agencies, and some have been referred to Family Services, Ozark Action and the HUD office.
Some of the data tabulated in Texas County’s summer PIT count:
• Four people living in vehicles
• Three families living in abandoned buildings
• One person in a cave on a farm
• Five people living on the street, or from place to place
• 14 people double-up in one house
Reasons for homelessness provided by some people responding to the survey:
• No job or income – 6
• Domestic violence – 1
• Eviction, can’t afford rent – 5
• Substance abuse/drugs and alcohol – 4
• Mental and physical disabilities – 3