A Night of Counting
January 26th, 2010

Last night thousands of volunteers scoured the city for men, women and children who call the streets home.

It happens every year since 2003, and it’s called the HOPE Street Survey — or the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate. Volunteers for the city’s Department of Homeless Services tour the five boroughs from 11 p.m. until 4 a.m. looking for people living on the streets. The count is supposed to capture an estimate of the city’s homeless population that do not use the shelter system.

Every year, according to the department, the numbers have declined, and since 2005 they have almost been cut in half — from 4,375 to 2,328.

Advocates dispute the study’s findings. Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless wrote that the survey has “an inherently flawed methodology.” The survey, he continued, fails to count the homeless that are in hard to reach locations and it doesn’t factor in inclement weather.

Last night, for instance, was unseasonably warm.

Either way, we won’t know last night’s results anytime soon. According to the press office at the Department of Homeless Services, the count can take weeks to compile.

For more, listen to this segment from Brian Lehrer this morning.

By on January 26, 2010, 5:47 pm
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