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Des Moines staff support 2024 Point-in-Time count of Polk County, Iowa homeless
[(L-R) Deborah Eastwood, Underwriter, Denver Homeownership Center; Julie Sleeper, HUD State Director]
(L-R) Deborah Eastwood, Underwriter, Denver Homeownership Center; Julie Sleeper, HUD State Director.

The Polk County, Iowa Continuum of Care (CoC) performed the annual Point in Time (PIT) Count starting on Wednesday, January 24, 2024.  The goal of the PIT is to obtain a snapshot of our nation’s homeless population and gather data about their lived experience on a single night in January each year. The data is used to discover trends in homeless programs, and to identify needed funding and community resources.

The Polk County PIT count spanned 24 hours and was broken into multiple shifts with small groups going to pre-determined areas of the county. HUD staff were paired with more seasoned volunteers and their groups then head out and located several homeless individuals in camps, libraries, and living under bridges and were able to engage with them to complete the PIT survey.

The HUD Des Moines Field Office had four staff members participate in the PIT. Of the four, this was the first time out for two of them, in assisting with the count. Deborah Eastwood, an underwriter for the Denver Homeownership Center that supports single-family loan insurance programs, and a first-time participant, stated, “I was paired with two very devoted Veterans Administration (VA) occupational therapists who work in homeless Veteran outreach. It was a very educational experience. It was great to meet so many people that had nightly shelter and were not sleeping out in the cold.”

Polk County PIT volunteers utilized a mobile phone application to record data from individuals being interviewed and submit the data to the local Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) provider. Once reviewed and verified, that data is then uploaded to HUD for further review and dissemination which is curated and part of a national report to Congress sent toward the end of the calendar year annually.